Posted on July 03, 2009Sarah Palin's surprise announcement today that she will step down this month as Alaska's governor has stirred a firestorm of conjecture about her motives and political prospects.
There is one particularly concrete consequence, however: she will be the third woman governor to leave office since the November elections in the wake of President Obama tapping two women governors for his cabinet (Kansas' Kathleen Sebelius and Arizona's Janet Napolitano). Women make up a majority of today's electorate, but come August, there will be 44 male governors and only six female governors, two of whom (Hawaii's Linda Lingle and Michigan's Jennifer Granholm) are barred from running for third terms next year. According to the invaluable Center for American Women in Politics, a majority of states have never had a woman governor in their history.
As highlighted in my commentary in Roll Call this week with Cindy Terrell, representation of women in elected office remains very low. We need to talk about it more, and urge more women to run, urge more partisans to promote women for office and consider changes to our electoral laws to create more incentives for women to run strong campaigns.