Did You Know: Arizona Leads The Pack With Female Governors

By Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez
Published: Friday, March 7, 2014 - 2:09pm
Updated: Friday, April 17, 2020 - 11:23am

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Inauguration Day in 1999
Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
Inauguration Day in 1999 for the five women elected to top Arizona executive positions.

Twenty-two. That's how many people have served as governor of Arizona since it became a state in 1912. But in the last quarter century, the face of the office has changed quite a bit.

Arizona has had 13 Democratic governors and nine Republicans. Some have served two and even three terms. Most of our state leaders have been men. But Did You Know Arizona is the first state to have four women governors?

"The first one, Mofford, and Napolitano, Democrats," said Alice Duckworth with the Arizona Capitol Museum. “Jane Hull, she was Republican, and Jan Brewer, Republican."

In 1988, Rose Mofford ascended to the position after her predecessor Evan Mecham was impeached. Nearly 10 years later, Jane Hull became the second woman to take Arizona’s highest office. She got the job after Fife Symington resigned.

The "Fabulous Five"
Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
The "Fabulous Five" elected to top executive state positions on Inauguration Day in 1999.

Hull later ran for a full term and became the first woman officially elected governor, but she was not the only woman making history in the state at that time.

"This is a special day because for the first time in the history of anywhere, the top executive positions are all held by women," Duckworth explained.

1998 was the year of the "Fabulous Five." Hull was governor, Betsey Bayless is elected secretary of state, Janet Napolitano becomes attorney general, Carol Springer was treasurer and Lisa Graham Keegan was superintendent of public instruction.

Duckworth shows me memorabilia from the special day. She said she remembers the inauguration vividly, she was there! So was yet another Arizona woman who once made U.S. history, swearing the Fabulous Five into office at the state Capitol.

Alice Duckworth
Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez/KJZZ
Alice Duckworth of the Arizona Capitol Museum with a framed article on the Arizona "Fabulous Five" in 2014.

“All of them are there with Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve in the U.S. Supreme Court. What a day," said Duckworth.

Then in 2002, Arizona elected Janet Napolitano, our third female governor. She made Arizona history again when she won a second term. Napolitano resigned to join President Obama’s cabinet as the first woman appointed as homeland security secretary.

And that brings us to today, Jan Brewer is the fourth woman elected governor and the third consecutive woman in the state’s top job.

Arizona Capitol Museum document
Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez/KJZZ
A document with the names of the five women voted into top executive offices with their signature next to them. The document is from the Arizona Capitol Museum.


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