For the third time in gubernatorial race history, the winner will definitely be a woman.
As of New Mexico’s primaries June 1, CNN reported both Republican and Democratic parties have placed their support behind two women candidates: District Attorney Susana Martinez for the Republicans and Lt. Gov. Diane Denish for the Democrats.
This women-only race is the third of its kind in the history of governor’s races in the United States, according to a chart created by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. The first took place in 1986 in Nebraska, in which Republican Kay Orr beat Democrat Helen Boosalis. The second took place in 2002 in Hawaii, where Republican Linda Lingle beat Democrat Mazie Hirono.
Both New Mexico’s female candidates come from outstanding backgrounds, and career paths. Martinez earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso, and her degree in law from the University of Oklahoma. She was first elected district attorney of New Mexico’s 3rd Judicial District, Doña Ana County, in 1996, winning nearly 60 percent of the vote, as stated on her campaign’s website). Since then she has been re-elected three times, holding the position for 13 years. The State Column reports that Martinez is the first Hispanic woman to be nominated as a candidate for a gubernatorial race in the United States.
Denish earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico. She owned a successful small business for 12 years. In 2002, Denish was elected New Mexico’s first female lieutenant governor. She has received numerous awards for the works she has done for New Mexican communities during her term. Listed on her Office of Lieutenant Governor website, among her awards are the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award, the Women Impacting Public Policy New Mexico Legislative Leadership Award, and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Child Health Advocate.
Although women have run in governor races, and won, these numbers remain low relative to the number of men running for high government office continues to be. The New Mexico race being only the third in the history of governor races to feature solely female candidates highlights the fact that women still have many branches to reach in the arena of leadership in the United States. To further open up the American landscape to women in high leadership positions is one of the main goals of the Vision 2020 initiative.