(WOMENSENEWS)–Early returns indicated that Election Day was good for many Republican women running for governor, as predicted.

Predictions were also panning out in other races involving women, as voters in one of the most vitriolic midterm elections in decades turned in few surprises.

Democrat Terry Sewell won her race to represent west and southwest Alabama in the House, becoming the first African American woman to be elected to Congress from the state. The state’s first female member of Congress, Elizabeth Andrew, was elected to fill her husband’s seat after his death in 1972 to serve out his term.

Sewell is an attorney who once worked for a high-powered New York law firm, Davis Polk and Wardwell.

Sewell’s political mentor and former colleague at Davis Polk, New York’s Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, won her election as well. Gillibrand was appointed in 2008 to fill Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate seat. A native of upstate New York, Gillibrand faced strong negative reaction downstate for her positions on immigration and gun control.

Haley, Martinez Make History

Female gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley is projected by CNN to defeat Democratic opponent Vincent Sheheen. The anti-choice candidate is only the second Indian-American governor in U.S. history.

She will be the first female governor of South Carolina and is expected to join New Mexico’s Republican Susana Martinez as the first two women of color to serve as governors.

In New Mexico, Martinez is projected by CNN to defeat Democrat Diane Denish, who is backed by the pro-choice Emily’s List. Martinez is the first Hispanic female gubernatorial candidate in either party.

Oklahoma Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Fallin is projected by CNN to defeat opponent Democrat Jari Askins. In one of their last debates, Fallin suggested Askins was not fit to serve as governor because she had never been a mother. Both women are anti-choice in one of the most restrictive states for abortion.

In another anti-choice victory, Arizona Republican Jan Brewer is projected to win against Democrat Terry Goddard.

Republican Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay, is projected by CNN to lose as is democratic pro-choice Wyoming gubernatorial candidate Leslie Petersen.

Senate Race Results


In Senate races, Tea Party candidate New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte was declared the winner. In Arkansas, Blanche Lincoln lost a long-held Democratic seat.

Maryland’s Democratic incumbent Barbara Mikulski kept her seat, as did California’s Barbara Boxer, who was in a tough race with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. Washington Democrat Patty Murray was also expected to be re-elected.

Mikulski and Boxer were were elected in the so-called Year of the Woman in 1992. Both progressives and pro-choice, they appeared on election night to have withstood strong and well-financed opposition.

In 1986, Mikulski became the first Democratic woman elected in her own right to the U.S. Senate. She was re-elected with large majorities in 1992, 1998 and 2004. Mikulski first served in the House for 10 years.

Tea party candidates Christine O’Donnell, Delaware, and Sharron Angle, Nevada, were both defeated in their highly publicized races. 

Wrestling tycoon Linda McMahon, a Republican, and Democrat Roxanne Conlin of Iowa both lost their bids to become senators. Conlin, an assistant attorney general, fought for laws to protect rape victims and pregnant employees.

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Editor in Chief Rita Henley Jensen and interns Colleen Flaherty and Mary Kate Bolan contributed to this report.

For more information:

Election 2010: Scorecard for Women Candidates, Center for American Women and Politics: