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Latinas and other women of color help increase presence of females in politics

LatinaLista — While women candidates were part of the casualty list in the 2010 midterm elections, there was history to be made also. The first Latina and Indian American governors were elected.

Screen shot 2010-11-03 at 4.40.35 PM.pngIn New Mexico, Republican Susana Martinez was victorious over her opponent Democratic Lt. Gov. Diane Denish. In her acceptance speech, the 51-year-old Martinez promised new jobs, less corruption and an improved educational system.

New Mexico’s Susana Martinez celebrates her election victory.
(Photo: Roberto E. Rosales)

She has also promised to repeal New Mexico’s law of issuing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants and repealing the 50,000 licenses that have already been issued.

South Carolina’s Nikki Haley scores a victory for the Republican Party and joins Martinez in the record books. Haley is the first female Indian American governor in the country.

According to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), there were 14 women-versus-women races. And among state legislatures, Colorado ranks first in the number of female legislators (38%) while South Carolina ranks 50th with only 10%.

When the new Congress convenes, depending on outstanding races in Alaska and Washington, a total of 15-17 women (11 or 12 D, 4 or 5 R) will serve in the Senate. A total of 4-6 women won Senate races, according to CAWP.

When the new House is seated, there will be at least 70 women (47D, 23R), with an additional four women (2D, 2R) in races still too close to call. At least 12 new women (4D, 8R) have been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. The women serving in the U.S. House as of January, 2011 will include:

• 58 (43D, 15R) re-elected incumbents (with two additional Democratic incumbents in races still too close to call)
• 7 (1D, 6R) women who defeated incumbent members of Congress (with an additional two Republican challengers in races still too close to call)
• 5(3D, 2R) women who won open House seats.
In addition, three non-voting delegates from Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Washington, DC were re-elected.

The new House members include five women of color.

Hawaii elected women to both of its U.S. House seats, making it the first state (other than states with only one district) to have an all-woman House delegation.

The total number of women governors as of 2011 will be six (2D, 4R).

Overall, women made political inroads in their races proving that there’s a bright future for more women to pursue politics.

CAWP provides a full listing of women who won their state and congressional races.

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