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Nebraska To Choose The Eighth Woman To Be Elected Governor With AM-Nebraska Governor

May 15, 1986

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ When Nebraskans elect their first woman governor in November, she will be the eighth female voted into a statehouse.

Nebraska voters made history Tuesday by nominating women on both major party tickets. Democrats chose Helen Boosalis, 66, the former two-term mayor of Lincoln, and state Treasurer Kay Orr, 47, won the Republican primary.

The seven women elected governors in other states have all been Democrats.

The first three women governors followed their husbands into office. They were Miriam Amanda ″Ma″ Ferguson of Texas, Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming and Lurleen Wallace of Alabama.

The late Ella Grasso of Connecticut generally was regarded as the first woman elected governor in her own right with her 1974 election. Two years later, Dixy Lee Ray was elected governor of Washington.

There are now two women governors, Martha Layne Collins of Kentucky and Madeleine Kunin of Vermont.

The Council of State Governments and secretaries of state offices show that each of the seven women governors defeated a male candidate in the general election.

Mrs. Ferguson’s husband, James, was impeached as Texas governor and removed from office in 1917. Mrs. Ferguson defeated George Butte in 1924 and Orville Bullington in 1932.

Mrs. Ross was elected in a special election after the death of her husband, William, in 1924 by defeating E.J. Sullivan. A spokesman for the Wyoming secretary of state recently said he couldn’t say what the initials E.J. stood for, but did say of Sullivan, ″He was not a woman.″

Mrs. Wallace, the wife of Gov. George Wallace, was elected in 1966 when her husband was barred from seeking another term. She defeated James Martin by a 2-1 margin but died in office in 1968.

Mrs. Grasso was elected governor twice, first defeating Robert Steele in 1974 and Robert Sarasin in 1978. Mrs. Ray beat John Spellman in 1976.

Mrs. Collins defeated former major league baseball pitcher Jim Bunning in 1983 to become Kentucky’s first woman governor. Madeleine Kunin defeated John Easton in 1984.

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