Women Who Ran for President

Women Presidential Candidates

Who were the early women candidates for president? Hillary Clinton was nominated by the Democratic National Convention on July 26, 2016, after locking up the Democratic nomination in June 2016 and after losing the nomination in June 2008 to Barack Obama. On June 7, as she achieved the pledged delegate threshold to win that nomination, she said to her supporters: “Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone, the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee. Tonight’s victory is not about one person — it belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”

But Clinton was not the first woman to run for United States President, and not even the first to run for a major party's nomination. Here's a list of the female presidential candidates, arranged chronologically by each woman's first campaign for the office.

Victoria Woodhull
Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images

Equal Rights Party: 1872
Humanitarian Party: 1892

Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president in the United States. Frederick Douglass was nominated as Vice President, but there's no record that he accepted. Woodhull was also known for her radicalism as a woman suffrage activist and her role in a sex scandal involving noted preacher of the time, Henry Ward Beecher. More »

Belva Lockwood
Library of Congress
National Equal Rights Party: 1884, 1888

Belva Lockwood, an activist for voting rights for women and for African Americans, was also one of the earliest women lawyers in the United States. Her campaign for president in 1884 was the first full-scale national campaign of a woman running for president. More »

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Laura Clay
Library of Congress
Democratic Party, 1920

Laura Clay, a Southern women's rights advocate who supported state suffrage amendments so that the Southern states could limit suffrage to white women, had her name placed in nomination at the 1920 Democratic National Convention, to which she was a delegate. More »

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Grace Allen

Gracie Allen
John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
Surprise Party: 1940

Comedian and actress, partner with husband George Burns on the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Grace Allen ran for president in 1940 as a publicity stunt. She was not on the ballot -- it was, after all, a stunt -- but she did get write-in votes.

Margaret Chase Smith
Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images
Republican Party: 1964

She was the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for president at a major political party's convention. She was also the first woman elected to serve in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. More »

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Charlene Mitchell

Charlene Mitchell
Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images
Communist Party: 1968

Nominated by the (tiny) Communist Party in 1968, Charlene Mitchell was the first African American woman nominated for president in the United States. She was on the ballot in two states in the general election, and received less than 1,100 votes nationally.

Shirley Chisholm Announcing Her Run for the Presidency 1972
Don Hogan Charles/New York Times Co./Getty Images
Democratic Party: 1972

A civil rights and women's rights advocate, Shirley Chisholm ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972 with the slogan, "Unbought and Unbossed." Her name was placed in nomination at the 1972 convention, and she won 152 delegates. More »

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Patsy Takemoto Mink

Patsy Takemoto Mink
Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images
Democratic Party: 1972

She was the first Asian American to seek nomination as president by a major political party. She was on the Oregon primary ballot in 1972. She was at that time a member of the U.S. Congress, elected from Hawaii.

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Bella Abzug 1971
Bella Abzug 1971. Bettmann / Getty Images
Democratic Party: 1972

One of three women to seek the Democratic Party nomination for president in 1972, Abzug was at the time a member of Congress from the West Side of Manhattan. More »

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Linda Osteen Jenness

Linda Jenness
Hake's Americana and Collectables / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Socialist Workers Party: 1972

Underage for the Constitution's requirements for the presidency, Linda Jenness ran against Nixon in 1972 and was on the ballot in 25 states. In three states where Jenness was not accepted for the ballot because of her age, Evelyn Reed was in the presidential slot. Their vote total was less than 70,000 nationally.

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Evelyn Reed

Socialist Workers Party: 1972

In states where SWP candidate Linda Jenness was not accepted for the ballot because she was under the Constitutional age for qualifying for the presidency, Evelyn Reed ran in her place.

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Ellen McCormack

Democratic Party: 1976; Right to Life Party: 1980

McCormack ran against legalized abortion and won 238,000 votes in 18 primaries in the Democratic campaign, winning 22 delegates in 5 states. She was eligible for matching funds, based on new electoral campaign rules. Her campaign resulted in changing the laws on federal matching funds to make it more difficult for candidates with little support. She ran again in 1980 on a third party ticket, receiving no federal matching funds, and was on the ballot in three states, two as an independent candidate.

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Margaret Wright

People's Party: 1976

African American activist Margaret Wright ran with Dr. Benjamin Spock in the V.P. spot; he'd been the presidential candidate in 1972.

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Deidre Griswold

Workers World Party: 1980

A founder of the Stalinist group that split from the Socialist Worker's Party, she received 13,300 votes in 18 states.

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Maureen Smith

Peace and Freedom Party: 1980

She ran with Elizabeth Barron; they received 18,116 votes.

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Sonia Johnson

Citizens Party: 1984

Founder of Mormons for the Equal Rights Amendment, she'd been excommunicated by the Mormon church in 1979. She received 72,200 votes in 26 states, six of those from write-ins because her party was not on the ballot.

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Gavrielle Holmes

Workers World Party: 1984

She was on the ballot in Ohio and Rhode Island as a stand-in for her husband, who was the candidate the party campaigned for.

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Isabelle Masters

Looking Back Party, etc.: 1984, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004
Representative Pat Schroeder
Representative Pat Schroeder. Cynthia Johnson/Liaison/Getty Images
Democratic Party: 1988

Pat Schroeder raised money and explored a run in the 1988 primaries, but she withdrew in September of 1987. More »

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Lenora Fulani

American New Alliance Party: 1988, 1992

She ran as a third party candidate in 1988 and 1992, and in the New Hampshire Democratic primary in 1992.

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Willa Kenoyer

Socialist Party: 1988

Kenoyer gained less than 4,000 votes from 11 states in 1988 as a Socialist Party candidate for the presidency.

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Gloria E. LaRiva

Workers World Party / Party for Socialism and Liberation: 1992

Formerly a candidate for VP with the Stalinist WWP, LaRiva was put on the New Mexico ballot in 1992 and gained fewer than 200 votes.

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Susan Block

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Helen Halyard

Worker's League: 1992

Another split from the Socialist Worker's Party, the Worker's League ran Halyard in 1992 and she gained just over 3000 votes in the two states, New Jersey and Michigan, where she was on the ballot. The Worker's League became the Socialist Equality Party in 1996.

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Millie Howard

Millie Howard for President Web Site
Millie Howard for President Web Site. Archived at the Library of Congress
Republican: 1992, 1996; Independent: 2000; Republican: 2004, 2008

Millie Howard of Ohio ran "for President USA 1992 and Beyond." In the 2004 New Hampshire primary, Howard received 239 votes.

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Monica Moorehead

Workers World Party: 1996, 2000

More successful than other years, the WWP won almost just over 29,000 votes in 12 states i 1996. In 2000, with Moorehead heading the ticket a second time, they received fewer than 5,000 votes.

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Marsha Feinland

Peace and Freedom Party: 1996

Running with Kate McClatchy, the ticket received just over 25,000 votes nationally.

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Mary Cal Hollis

Socialist Party: 1996

Hollis received about 4,700 votes in 12 states.

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Heather Anne Harder

Democratic Party: 1996
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Elvena E. Lloyd-Duffie

Democratic Party: 1996

Lloyd-Duffie ran for the nomination against incumbent Bill Clinton, getting more than 90,000 votes in the primaries of the five states where she was on the ballot.

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Georgina H. Doerschuck

Republican Party: 1996
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Susan Gail Ducey

Republican Party: 1996
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Ann Jennings

Republican Party: 1996
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Diane Beall Templin

American Party: 1996
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Joanne Jorgensen

Libertarian Party: 1996
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Elizabeth Dole

Republican Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Dole, 1999
Republican Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Dole, 1999. Evan Agostini/Getty Images
Republican Party: 2000

Elizabeth Dole, married to unsuccessful 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, raised more than $5 million for her 2000 campaign for the Republican nomination, but withdrew before the first primary. She went on to be elected to the Senate from North Carolina in 2002.

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Cathy Gordon Brown

Independent: 2000
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Carol Moseley Braun

Moseley-Braun Campaigns in New Hampshire 2003
Moseley-Braun Campaigns in New Hampshire 2003. William B. Plowman / Getty Images
Democratic Party: 2004

Braun campaigned in 2003 for the 2004 nomination, endorsed by several women's organizations. She dropped out in January, 2004, for lack of funds. She was already on the ballot in several states and, even though she'd withdrawn, drew more than 100,000 votes in those primaries.

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Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Clinton concedes the race for the Democratic presidential momination, 2008
Hillary Clinton concedes the race for the Democratic presidential momination, 2008. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Democratic Party: 2008

The closest that any woman has come to the nomination of a major party for president, Hillary Clinton began her campaign in 2007 and was expected by many to win the nomination. It was not until Barack Obama had locked in enough pledged votes by June, 2008, that Clinton suspended her campaign and threw her support to Obama.

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Cynthia McKinney

Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney, 2008
Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney, 2008. Mario Tama/Getty Images
Green Party: 2008
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Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann Campaigning, August 2011
Michele Bachmann Campaigning, August 2011. Richard Ellis/Getty Images

Republican, 2012

Michelle Bachmann, a member of the House of Representatives from Minnesota and a founder of the Tea Party caucus in Congress, began her presidential campaign in 2011, participating in several early debates of Republican candidates. She ended her campaign in January, 2012, when she placed sixth (and last) in the Iowa caucuses with less than 5% of the votes in a state where she'd won a straw poll the previous August.

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Peta Lindsay

Party for Socialism and Liberation, 2012

Anti-war activist born in 1984 -- and thus ineligible to serve as President in 2013 should she be elected -- Peta Lindsay was known as a student anti-war activist in high school and college. The Party for Socialism and Liberation nominated her for president in November, 2011, for the 2012 presidential election. Her running mate, Yari Osorio, would also be ineligible to be president, as she was born in Colombia.

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Jill Stein

Green Party Candidate Jill Stein Announces Her Presidential Run
Green Party Candidate Jill Stein Announces Her Presidential Run. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Green Party, 2012, 2016

Jill Stein headed the Green Party ticket in 2012, with Cheri Honkala as the party's candidate for Vice President. A physician, Jill Stein has been an environmental activist who has campaigned for several state and local offices in Massachusetts, elected to the Lexington Town Meeting in 2005 and 2008. Jill Stein was officially nominated the Green Party on July 14, 2012.  In 2016, she won the nomination of the Green Party again, briefly offering the top spot to Bernie Sanders after Hillary Clinton clinched the nomination of the Democratic Party.

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Roseanne Barr

Roseanne Barr's 'Roseanne For President!'
Roseanne Barr's 'Roseanne For President!'. FilmMagic / Getty Images

Peace and Freedom Party, 2012

Well-known comedienne, once known simply as Roseanne, announced her candidacy for the presidency on The Tonight Show in 2011, first saying she was running on the "Green Tea Party" ticket. she formally announced her serious candidacy in January 2012, losing to Jill Stein as the Green Party nominee. She then announced she would run at the top of the Peace and Freedom Party ticket, with anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan running for Vice President; she was nominated by that party in August, 2012.

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Hillary Clinton

Democratic National Convention: Day Four
Democratic National Convention: Day Four. Alex Wong / Getty Images

She ran for president unsuccessfully in 2008 but came back in 2016 to run again.  

On July 26, 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first woman nominated by a major party in the United States for the office of president.

On June 7, 2016, she had received enough votes at caucuses and primaries against her major opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, to clinch the election in pledged delegates.  She said in her victory speech for the nomination:  “Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone, the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee. Tonight’s victory is not about one person — it belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”

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Carly Fiorinia

Carly Fiorina Holds 'Coffee With Carly' Campaign Event In Manchester
Carly Fiorina Holds 'Coffee With Carly' Campaign Event In Manchester. Darren McCollester / Getty Images

Cara Carleton Sneed Fiorina, a former business executive, announced her candidacy on May 4, 2015, for the Republican nomination for president for the 2016 election.  She dropped out of the race in February, 2016, when it became apparent that she could not achieve a victory.

She is a former CEO of HP (Hewlett-Packard), forced to resign in 2005 over differences about her management style and performance. She was an advisor to John McCain's presidential run in 2008. She ran against incumbent Barbara Boxer in California for the United States Senate in 2010, losing by 10 percentage points.