Women + Politics in Maine

The growing prominence of women in Maine politics, as evidenced by Chellie Pingree's election (she's the first Democratic female elected to the US House or Senate from Maine), and the selection of Hannah Pingree and Libby Mitchell to lead their respective state legislative houses (both have set records -- Pingree is the youngest woman to serve in her role; Mitchell is the first person to have served as a leader in both state houses), is in line with national trends.

According to the New Jersey-based Center for Women in Politics, which runs out of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, "a record number of woen will serve in state legislatures" next year. In 2008, Maine ranked 9th among state legislatures in terms of proportion of women (31.2%); no doubt that its ranking will stay high -- or even climb a bit. (Vermont topped the 2008 list, with 38.3%; South Carolina bottomed out at 8.8%.) Another point of New England pride: After the 2008 elections, New Hampshire achieved an important first -- the majority of its state senate is women. (South Carolina hangs its head again -- a whopping zero (0) women serve in that state's senate.)

It will be interesting to see how these changes affect the political atmosphere -- if at all.

Related: This Gail Collins column (published on Saturday) predicts that Maine's two female US senators will wield considerable political power in the upcoming session. 

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