Opinion: Three more women are elected governor - Mary Fallin, Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez make history


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While Congress went backwards a step in diversity in regards to African American senators (there are now zero), the nation elected three more women as governors: Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, and Susana Martinez of New Mexico. Each woman is a Republican and each of their victories changed history in their state.

The three new female governors brings the total of current female U.S. governors to seven: Jan Brewer, Ariz; Bev Perdue, N.C.; M. Jodi Rell, Conn.; Chris Gregoire, Wash.)

U.S. Rep. Fallin, who has never been in a close election, became Oklahoma’s first woman to be elected governor, getting 60% of the votes in her race with Democrat Lt. Gov. Jari Askins.

For the last three years Fallin has been the representative of Oklahoma’s 5th District. She had....


...been Lt. Gov from 1995–2007, a relatively quiet era other than when one of her bodyguards resigned after admitting to ‘unprofessional conduct’ with her. The conservative says her priorities going forward will be to focus on working to create jobs in Oklahoma and controlling government spending. She will replace Democratic Gov. Brad Henry who was leaving due to term limits.

Fallin wants to send a message that if Oklahoma had a boyfriend, it would be the 2nd Amendment - the right to bear arms. ‘I believe that gun ownership rights in Oklahoma can and should be expanded,’ Fallin wrote on her website. ‘Gov. Brad Henry vetoed an ‘open carry’ law that would have permitted responsible gun owners to carry weapons without concealing them. When I am governor, I will sign that bill into law and send a message that in Oklahoma, we mean business when it comes to the second amendment. ‘

South Carolina has never seen anyone other than white men hold the position of governor until now. Nikki Haley is the daughter of Indian immigrants. The 38-year-old Republican was accused of cheating on her husband, and worse, not filing her taxes on time. Filling the seat of disgraced Gov. Mark Sanford, Haley promised to resist federal aid and fight the Obama health care law.

‘She may be anti-feminist, pro-life, and want to destroy any government-subsidized child care,’ Slate’s Hanna Rosin wrote Wednesday after Haley beat Democrat state Sen.Vincent Sheheen, ‘but still, her victory has symbolic meaning for women.’

Haley considers herself a product of the ‘tea party’ movement and received support from Sarah Palin, who went to South Carolina to support her late in the race.

Nikki Haley will become the nation’s second Indian American governor, joining Louisiana’s Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal.

New Mexico Republican Susana Martinez became the first Latina governor in the country. Although she ran on being tough on border issues, specifically cracking down on Mexican drug cartels, her campaign has had a tough time naming any cartel member she had convicted as district attorney. Her opponent couldn’t even name a single Mexican cartel during a debate against Martinez.

While Meg Whitman spent more than $140 million of her own money and lost her race for governor, Martinez won her seat with just over $1 million.

-- Tony Pierce

Top photo: U.S. Rep Mary Fallin (R-Okla.) speaks during a debate with Democrat Lt. Gov. Jari Askins at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla.

Second photo: South Carolina Gov.-elect Nikki Haley gives her acceptance speech as husband Michael, daughter Rena, 12, and son Nalin, 9, look on in the early hours Wednesday in Columbia, SC. Credit: David Goldman / Associated Press