A record number of women ran for office in yesterday’s 2002 midterm election. Of the 10 women who ran for governor, four won – making six the new total of women governors, four Democrats and two Republicans. That’s just one more than the five women governors who served this past term. Michigan’s Jennifer Granholm (D) and Arizona’s Janet Napolitano (D) both soundly defeated their opponents by a 3-point lead while Kansas’ Kathleen Sebelius (D) pulled even farther ahead with 8 points on her opponent. Meanwhile, in the first-ever woman versus woman race in Hawaii, Linda Lingle (R) defeated Mazie Hirono (D) by five points.
A total of 124 women ran for seats in the US House of Representatives, just over the previous record for women candidates – 120 in 1996. Of the 124 women candidates (including US Rep Patsy Mink (D-HI) who died just before the election but her name remained on the ballot), 59 will be part of the 108th Congress. This number is the same as the 107th Congress – with a total of seven new women entering the House, five Republicans and two Democrats.
Eleven women ran for US Senate seats with a total of two declared victories and two still vying for one seat – Louisiana’s Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu will face her Republican challenger Suzanne Haik Terrell in a December 7 runoff election. Louisiana was one of two states where women opposed other women for Senate seats; in Maine, incumbent Susan Collins (R) defeated her Democratic challenger Chellie Pingree by 16 points. In another race, Elizabeth Dole (R) sailed to victory in North Carolina, defeating her Democratic opponent by nine points. A total of 13 women (including either Landrieu or Terrell from Louisiana) will serve in the Senate next term, equaling women’s presence in the last session.