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Delaware Swears in Female Governor

January 4, 2001

DOVER, Del. (AP) _ Ruth Ann Minner took the oath of office Wednesday as Delaware’s first female governor.

The plain-talking Democrat, who started her political career answering phones for a past governor, defeated former state lawmaker John Burris with 59 percent of the vote. She is a former state lawmaker and lieutenant governor.

``When I began in state government, I never dreamed I would come this far,″ Minner said. ``But at every level, though I made a difference, I saw that there was more to be done.″

She was sworn in early to replace outgoing Gov. Tom Carper, who was in Washington on Wednesday being sworn in as senator.

Minner, 65, often has been described as something of a folk hero. She dropped out of high school and left the family farm at 17 to get married. Widowed at 32, she raised three sons and got her Graduate Equivalency Diploma before winning a seat in the House of Representatives in 1974. She still runs her late husband’s towing business.

``It’s almost a Horatio Alger story for the first state _ where she’s come from, what she’s had to endure,″ said state Rep. John Schroeder.

During the campaign, Minner insisted her gender shouldn’t be the focus of attention, but on Wednesday she embraced it, saying she hoped her election would inspire girls to seek elected office.

``Today is the day when Delaware sees its first woman governor,″ Minner said. ``And for that, I am truly proud.″

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