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  • Female Acting Governors?

    In the U.S., the first female governors were all wives who became acting governors of states when their husbands either died or became incapacitated (e.g. Lurleen Wallace). Why did this practice/state law originate, given that states have long had lieutenant governors and state attorneys general, who are often elected as party of a ticket?

    It seems there would have been experience issues that prevented this from ever occurring- I felt so even when I was a kid.

  • #2
    Are you sure that they became acting governors? As far as I know, Wallace was elected to the position, although as a puppet of her husband because the constitution at that time prevented him serving consecutive terms. Not that I'm a historian or USAnian, just an odd bit of information from somewhere.

    Comment


    • #3
      I believe Athleticsimaging has that right. I've never heard of a woman succeeding her husband as governor. But I believe there have been situations where a governor has been able to make an interim appointment when a US Senator has died, and has appointed the surviving spouse.

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      • #4
        Govs.

        Thanks. This is what Wikipedia has on the topic, I thought some of the husbands died or were unable to complete their terms:

        Twenty-nine women have been or are currently serving as the governor of an American state, including two in an acting capacity. The first female governor was Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming who was elected on November 4, 1924 and sworn in on January 5, 1925. She was preceded in office by her late husband William Ross. Also elected on November 4 was Miriam A. Ferguson of Texas, but she was not sworn in until January 21, 1925. The first female governor elected without being the wife or widow of a past state governor was Ella T. Grasso of Connecticut, elected in 1974 and sworn in on January 8, 1975.

        As you both stated, Mrs. Ross back in the '20's ran f/ election. I don't see any online data (grouped) about the wives who served between Ross & Wallace, but that clears it up.

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        • #5
          Last Word

          "...Historical Overview

          THE SURROGATE GOVERNORS. The 1974 election of Ella Grasso (D-Connecticut) marked the beginning of an era for women as gubernatorial candidates—but three women had served as state governors prior to Grasso’s election. Acting initially as replacements or "surrogates" for their husbands, all three were appointed or elected because their husbands were governors who could not, for one reason or another, hold office any longer. Two of the three women, Nellie Tayloe Ross (D) of Wyoming and Miriam Ferguson (D) of Texas, took office in 1925.

          Nellie Tayloe Ross was elected to the governorship in a special election following the death of husband and she served the remaining years of his term. Ross was then the Democratic party candidate for re-election in 1926, but was defeated by her Republican challenger in a close race (35,651 votes to 34,286 votes). She remained active in Democratic Party politics—at one point she served as Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee and in 1933 newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her to the position of Director of the Mint.

          First appointed to the governorship when her husband resigned under threat of impeachment, Miriam Ferguson went on to be active in Texas politics for two decades. During that time she ran for governor five times and won twice, serving as governor from 1925-1927 and again from 1933-1935.

          Both Ross and Ferguson first held office because their husbands were governor, but each went on to serve in appointed and elected positions based solely on their own ability. Their life-long careers as public servants have many elements that are similar to the careers of later women governors. This is not the case with the third woman surrogate governor, Lurleen Wallace (D-Alabama).

          Wallace succeeded her husband George Wallace in 1967, when Alabama state law barred him from succeeding himself. Lurleen was ill at the time of her election and she died while in office in May, 1968. There is little evidence that Lurleen Wallace exercised independent decision making authority during her years in office..."

          Ferguson was "appointed", but it doesn't say by whom (one of you indicated a U.S. Senate member may have done so in a case).

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Last Word

            Originally posted by bijanc
            Ferguson was "appointed", but it doesn't say by whom (one of you indicated a U.S. Senate member may have done so in a case).
            No, what I indicated was that if state law permits it (and I think most states do), a governor can make an interim appointment when a US Senator dies. I don't see how a senator can appoint an interim governor.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Last Word

              Originally posted by bijanc
              Ferguson was "appointed", but it doesn't say by whom (one of you indicated a U.S. Senate member may have done so in a case).
              The wiki article on Ferguson says nothing about her having been appointed. To the contrary, it says that she ran for the office and was elected.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miriam_A._Ferguson

              Comment


              • #8
                Not Wikki

                I saw the word "appointed" here (during a husband's term, not an election):

                www.ac.wwu.edu/~sweir/womengovs98.htm (under the heading "THE SURROGATE GOVERNORS")

                "...Historical Overview

                THE SURROGATE GOVERNORS. The 1974 election of Ella Grasso (D-Connecticut) marked the beginning of an era for women as gubernatorial candidates—but three women had served as state governors prior to Grasso’s election. Acting initially as replacements or "surrogates" for their husbands, all three were appointed or elected because their husbands were governors who could not, for one reason or another, hold office any longer. Two of the three women, Nellie Tayloe Ross (D) of Wyoming and Miriam Ferguson (D) of Texas, took office in 1925.

                Nellie Tayloe Ross was elected to the governorship in a special election following the death of husband and she served the remaining years of his term. Ross was then the Democratic party candidate for re-election in 1926, but was defeated by her Republican challenger in a close race (35,651 votes to 34,286 votes). She remained active in Democratic Party politics—at one point she served as Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee and in 1933 newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her to the position of Director of the Mint.

                First appointed to the governorship when her husband resigned under threat of impeachment, Miriam Ferguson went on to be active in Texas politics for two decades..."

                Doesn't indicate who, or what body appointed her. I suspect that there are online bio's for a woman such as Ferguson who served Texas as long as she did.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Here's another web source that says that Ma Ferguson was not appointed governor when her husband stepped down. It seems to be from an official State of Texas source.

                  http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/governors/pe ... index.html

                  William Pettus Hobby
                  . . .
                  Hobby was elected lieutenant governor in 1914 and reelected in 1916. He became acting governor on August 25, 1917 and governor on September 25, 1917, when James Ferguson resigned.

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                  • #10
                    Lady Gov's

                    who was chief exec of the state between Ferguson's impeachent and her first election?

                    "...During Ferguson's second term in office, a quarrel with the University of Texas administration grew into a controversy. Resultant charges against him precipitated impeachment proceedings. The Senate, sitting as a court of impeachment, by the vote of 25 to 3, convicted Ferguson on ten charges, which included the misapplication of public funds, and failing to respect and enforce the banking laws of the state. Although he resigned on August 25, 1917, the day before the judgment was announced, the court of impeachment's judgment was sustained, preventing Ferguson from holding public office in Texas..."

                    (fr. the Texas hist. site tandfman posted)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Lady Gov's

                      Originally posted by bijanc
                      who was chief exec of the state between Ferguson's impeachent and her first election?
                      According to that web site, there were three of them. Ferguson himself remained the governor from the time he was impeached until the time he resigned. Then Hobby took over, first as acting gov, then as gov. Then Pat Morris Neff was elected for two terms. Then Ma Ferguson waas first elected.

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