Election 2013: Women Make Minimal Gains in State Legislatures

No New Women Governors; Minneapolis Likely to Have a New Woman Mayor

The only woman running for governor this year, New Jersey State Senator Barbara Buono (D), lost her bid to unseat Governor Chris Christie (R). In other election results, New Jersey increased its count of women legislators by one, while Virginia’s is likely to drop by one,  according to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

In addition, 25 of the nation’s 100 largest cities had mayoral races, with women candidates involved in eight.  Two incumbent women emerged as winners in Houston and Raleigh, and a third as the likely winner in Minneapolis, with one race to be held next week in Tulsa.

“While we didn’t elect any women governors this year, 2014 could be a big year at the statewide level,” noted Walsh. “Four incumbent women governors will seek re-election in NH, NM, OK and SC, and women are stepping up all around the country to run.”  There will be gubernatorial elections in 36 states, and to date, CAWP’s tracking shows 29 women in 20 states as potential candidates  for chief executive posts.

New Jersey

The Garden State re-elected Republican Governor Chris Christie and his running mate, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, over the Democratic ticket of State Senator Barbara Buono and labor activist Milly Silva. Guadagno is one of 10 (4D, 6R) women lieutenant governors across the nation.

As a result of the 2013 elections, New Jersey’s legislature will have 36 women among its 120 members (30.0%). With a total of 10 women in the Senate (7D, 3R) and 26 women in the Assembly (16D,  10R), New Jersey will rank 10th  among the states for its proportion of women in the state legislature. The previous numbers were 11 women in the Senate and  24 in the Assembly.

 “In spite of a record number of women candidates for the legislature, we saw little change in the number of women who will serve,” commented Walsh. “While New Jersey has made significant progress since the early 2000s, when we ranked in the bottom ten nationally, much work remains to be done.”

All incumbent women legislators (22D, 12R)  who ran for re-election won their races, 10 in the Senate (7D, 3R) and 24 in the Assembly (15D, 9R).  They were joined by two newcomers who won open Assembly seats: Democrat Nancy Pinkin and Republican Maria Rodriguez Gregg, the first Republican Latina in the New Jersey legislature.

The legislators include 16  women of color,  including five in the Senate (3 African American women and  2 Latinas) and 11 in the Assembly (6 African American women and 5 Latinas).

The state’s two all-female legislative delegation maintained that distinction. Three incumbent Republican women won in the 11th district: Senator Jennifer Beck and Assemblywomen  Mary Pat Angelini and Carolyn Casagrande. Three incumbent Democratic women won in the 29th district: Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Assemblywomen L. Grace Spencer and Eliana Pintor Marin .

Running for the NJ legislature in the 2013 general election were 15 Senate candidates (9D, 6R) and 52 Assembly candidates (26D, 26R). The 67 women running for the legislature bested the previous record of 65 women candidates in 2011 and far exceeded the 51 women candidates in 2001, the last time New Jersey had a gubernatorial race in a year when all seats in both houses were on the ballot.


In Virginia, where only the House of Delegates was up for election, there will be at least 23 women in the 140-member legislature (16.4%), including 6 holdover women senators (5D, 1R), and  17 women delegates (12D, 5R). One race involving a Democratic woman challenging a Republican incumbent remains too close to call, and a recount is possible.  If the total remains at 23, Virginia will be in 42nd  place in the nation. There were 31 (24D, 7R) women candidates for Delegate. No women were major-party candidates for statewide offices.


25 of the nation’s 100 largest cities held mayoral races, and women were general election candidates in eight of those contests.  Incumbent women mayors won in Raleigh, NC (Nancy McFarland, D) and Houston, TX (Annise Parker, D). In Minneapolis, in a non-partisan “ranked choice” race with 35 candidates, City Council Member Betsy Hodges is expected to win when all votes are tabulated. Women challengers lost races in Cincinnati, OH, Saint Paul, MN, Seattle, WA, and Winston-Salem, NC; the mayoral election in Tulsa, OK will take place later in November. In highly mayoral visible races in New York City, Los Angeles and Boston, women lost primaries.


Daniel De Simone: ddesimone@eagleton.rugters.edu; 760.703.0948