List of Female Conservative Governors in the United States

As of 2016, there are 6 female governors in the United States. Three are Republicans and three are Democrats. All three Republican women were first elected in the 2010 conservative wave that saw the beginning of the end of "the good old boys" network and as grassroots activists became more supportive of long-shot, upstart, and less-connected candidates.

Here, we will take a brief look at the Republican women who are running states across the country.

Susana Martinez - New Mexico

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez speaks during the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 29, 2012
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Susana Martinez is a former District Attorney who became the first female Hispanic governor ever elected in US history. Martinez was a Democrat until the mid-1990's when she switched to the Republican party. 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.

In 2014, Martinez won re-election by a larger 57-43% margin and she is thought to be possible VP prospect, especially if Jeb Bush wins the Republican nomination.

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 after signing a popular law that would require voter identification in order to vote. This law is currently being challenged in court by the Obama Department of Justice, as they have regularly opposed voter identification laws.

In 2014 Haley won re-election my double-digits, 56-43%, after surviving a rough patch earlier in her first term. During that election,  Republican Tim Scott became the first black politician elected to the US Senate ins the South since reconstruction, helping to battle misconceptions about the party.  Haley is also considered a likely 2016 vice-presidential contender by many.

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.

In 2014, Fallin won re-election 56-41% and her term will expire in 2019.

Potential Candidates in 2016

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A number of other women may try to join Fallin, Haley, and Martinez on the governors list. In Missouri, Catherine Hanaway is the former Speaker of the Missouri House and considered a top candidate. In Delaware, political newcomer Lacey Lafferty has launched a longshot bid to lead the state. In 2017, New Jersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno could attempt to hold onto the seat currently held by Chris Christie.

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Hawkins, Marcus. "List of Female Conservative Governors in the United States." ThoughtCo, Sep. 13, 2015, Hawkins, Marcus. (2015, September 13). List of Female Conservative Governors in the United States. Retrieved from Hawkins, Marcus. "List of Female Conservative Governors in the United States." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 24, 2017).