Back in June, Equality in Sight reported on New Mexico’s women gubernatorial race. Democrat Diane Denish, the current two-term lieutenant governor, or Republican Susana Martinez will assume the post. Some news outlets have reported that Denish or Martinez will be the state’s first woman governor, but as Ms. Magazine’s blog pointed out last month, that is not the case. Soledad Chávez Chacón was New Mexico’s — and the United States’ — first acting woman governor for two weeks in 1924. With women securing the right to vote only four years earlier, it was a momentous time in history.
Chacón’s first office was secretary of state. She won the election by a margin of almost 9,000 votes and was the nation’s first Hispanic woman to win a statewide election. Ms. Magazine also notes that when Chacón needed an assistant, she asked her husband to assume the position.
For Chacón to assume the governor’s office for two weeks, an unexpected event took place. Gov. James Hinkle was to attend the Democratic National Convention in Washington, D.C., but then Lt. Gov. José Baca suddenly died. This made Chacón next in line to be acting governor. After assuming the governor’s post for a brief time, Chacón was re-elected secretary of state and a state representative in 1934.
When New Mexico citizens go to the polls to vote for a women governor in November, they can feel proud they didn’t need to wait 90 years to have a woman state leader.