New Mexico Women Move Toward Gender Parity in State Legislature
Thursday, March 9, 2023
Voters in western states are more likely to elect women to the state Legislature, according to a new Center for American Women and Politics report, and New Mexico ranks sixth among the top ten states.
Nevada ranks highest - with women claiming nearly 51% of legislative seats - the first state legislature in history to have a majority of women.
Center director Debbie Walsh said in New Mexico, nearly 45% of lawmakers are women. And the state also boasts another first.
"New Mexico is one of the states that has not just elected a woman governor once, but twice," said Walsh. "And women on both sides of the aisle and the only two Latinas that have been elected governor in the United States have come from New Mexico."
The current governor, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, succeeded Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
The 2023 ranking showed for the first time in history, more than one state reached or surpassed gender parity.
Following the 2022 elections, Colorado was the second state to reach the parity point for women and men. Other top states for women legislators include Arizona, Washington and Vermont.
Walsh said women who run for statewide office are typically older than men and trail male candidates in fundraising.
"We know that when women run they win at about the same rate as men do in comparable races," said Walsh, "so the challenge is always about recruiting and getting women to run for office."
The research also shows a gap between the parties: Women were almost half of Democratic state legislative nominees but only a quarter of Republican nominees.
States with the fewest women elected to office - below 15% - include West Virginia, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Walsh noted that it's getting more and more difficult to find women or men who want to run for public office.
"Given the tenor and the tone of politics," said Walsh, "and then for women there is this kind of underlying threat of violence whether it's physical violence or the kind of harassment that women face in social media."
Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
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