The 2010 tea party movement saw an infusion of female and minority elected officials within the Republican party. As of that midterm election, 4 of the nation's 6 female governors were Republican. With both Democratic women not running for re-election in 2012, and only one female Democrat running for a governors mansion at all, it is possible that every female governor in the US will be a Republican.
Traditionally, Republican candidates have fared better with male voters while Democratic candidates have fared better among women, and especially single women. The new wave of conservatism is much more dismissive of "the good old boys" network and supportive of long-shot, upstart, and less-connected candidates. This new energy within the Republican party, and the possibility of expanding the GOP voting base to new levels, could explain the rise of the mythical "War on Women" that has been used to attack conservatives.
Here, we will take a brief look at the Republican women who are running states across the country.
Susana Martinez - New Mexico
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Susana Martinez is a former District Attorney who became the first female Hispanic governor ever elected. She was a Democrat until the mid-1990's when she switched to the Republican side. At the 2012 Republican convention, she explained her party conversion in a prime-time address. After having lunch with a few Republicans who wanted to convert her, they talked for a long time about a number of issues. She and her husband found they were in agreement on most of the issues, and after leaving the lunch she said to her husband "I'll be damned, we're Republicans."
After winning the GOP primary in 2010, Martinez won the key swing-state by 53-47%. The state was previously headed by a Democrat. Martinez ran on a pro-legal immigration platform that promised to seal the border. After becoming governor, she ended New Mexico's "sanctuary" status for illegal immigrants who commit crimes. She is pro-life, and a strong fiscal conservative.
Jan Brewer - Arizona
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Jan Brewer has been a chief adversary of President Barack Obama, mostly as it relates to handling the issue of illegal immigration. Ironically, Brewer became governor after Obama tapped then-governor Janet Napolitano to head the Department of Homeland Security. Brewer, as Secretary of State, was next in line to the governor's mansion. Her hard line on illegal immigration boosted her re-election chances. After signing SB1070
, a bill that would later become a target of the Obama justice department, Brewer's popularity in the state soared. While she initially trailed her Democratic challenger in early polling, after signing SB1070 Brewer took control of the contest and eventually won with a 12-point cushion.
Nikki Haley - South Carolina
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Nikki Haley was a 2010 tea party candidate who enjoyed the backing of both Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. She won a hotly contested primary runoff with 65% of the vote. Haley is the second Indian-American governor in the country, along with fellow Republican Bobby Jindal
of Louisiana. She is also the first-ever female governor in the state of South Carolina. Like Jan brewer in Arizona, Haley has also gone head-to-head with President Obama. Haley signed a popular law that would require a voter identification in order to vote. This law is currently being challenged in court by the Obama Department of Justice, who as regularly opposed
voter i.d. laws.
Mary Fallin - Oklahoma
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Mary Fallin became the first female governor of Oklahoma when she easily won election during the 2010 midterm elections. Fallin, a former Lt. Governor and member of the House of Representatives, easily won the Republican primary and later the general election. Unlike her fellow governors, Fallin has had a relatively quiet and controversy-free time in office. Leading one of the more conservative states in the country, Fallin has had an easier time in trying to slow down the growth of government in her state.