Shannon O’Brien yesterday became the first woman to win a major party primary in the Massachusetts governor’s race. Jane Swift, a Republican, who is currently serving as governor after being elected Lieutenant Governor in 1998, became governor in April 2001 when then Governor Paul Cellucci resigned to become the US Ambassador to Canada.
O’Brien, who is currently serving as the state Treasurer, had 33 percent of the vote with close to 75 percent of the votes counted – beating out Robert Reich, the labor secretary during the Clinton administration, state Senate President Thomas Birmingham and former state Senator Warren Tolman. O’Brien will now face Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who will run with Kerry Healey, a woman who won yesterday’s Republican primary election for the lieutenant governor spot.
With 36 governor spots open this year, 14 women are making a bid for the position that has typically trailed far behind US Congress in terms of women elected. Currently, there are five woman governors and that number could more than double this year. O’Brien became the eighth woman to win a Democratic gubernatorial nomination so far this year – she is joined by Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer in Alaska, state Attorney General Janet Napolitano in Arizona, state Treasurer Jimmie Lou Fisher in Arkansas, state Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Sebelius in Kansas, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in Maryland, state Attorney General Jennifer Granholm in Michigan and former state Sen. Myrth York in Rhode Island.