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November 11, 2008

Election Firsts for Women

Here's a quick roundup of some of the gains made by women in last Tuesday's election.

~Kay Hagan is North Carolina's first Democratic female Senator.

~Bev Perdue is North Carolina's first female Governor, and the first pro-choice Democratic woman Governor of a southern state since the late Ann Richards of Texas.

~Jeanne Shaheen encompasses many firsts for women in politics: not only is she the first woman Senator from New Hampshire, but she is also the first Democratic woman Senator in New England. In 1996, Shaheen was the first woman elected as Governor of New Hampshire.

~The New Hampshire state senate is the first state legislative body in the country’s history with a female majority, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Female ranks in the 24-member chamber grew from 10 to 13 of the 24.

~Chellie Pingree is the first Democratic woman to represent Maine in Congress. When she takes office, three-quarters of the state's congressional delegation will be women - the first time in U.S. history that the majority of a state's congressional delegation will be female. Maine is also expected to nominate women to the positions of House speaker and Senate president on the state level, which would be the first time that both of those positions were held by women during the same legislative session.

~Suzanne Kosmas is the first woman and first Democrat to represent Florida’s 24th district in Congress.

~Carol Shea-Porter was re-elected in New Hampshire's first district. First elected in 2006, Carol Shea-Porter was the first woman to represent New Hampshire in the United States Congress.

~Democrat Denise Juneau was elected to the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction in Montana. She is the first Native American woman elected to a statewide executive position in the state.

~Cities and towns across the country from Cody, Wyoming to Lexington, Virginia to Northfield, Minnesota to Cayce, South Carolina elected female mayors for the first time.

~In January when the 111th Congress takes office, the House of Representatives will have a new high of 74 women, and the Senate will also set a new record with 17 women.

~Although she didn't make it as far as Election Day, let's also remember that Senator Hillary Clinton ran the first "serious" major party campaign by a woman for the presidential nomination, and earned 18 million votes from people across the country in the primaries.

Of course the standard disclaimer applies about how we still have a long way to go - only 17 Senators out of 100 are women when we're more than half the population? - but it's safe to say that 2008 was a really good year for women running for office.

If you're a woman and you want to run for office, start by checking out Emily's List, The White House Project, and the National Women's Political Caucus.

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