Making history: Record 12 women form cohort, will simultaneously serve as governors in 2023

Maura Healey's record-setting win in Massachusetts was historic in more ways than just her being the country's first lesbian governor.

Come 2023, the 51-year-old Democrat will also be the 12th woman to concurrently serve as a governor in the U.S., topping the record nine women set in 2004. 

The former record simultaneously serving at the helm as governor was matched in 2007 and 2009.

On Tuesday, incumbent female governors in Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, New Mexico, Michigan and South Dakota won reelection.

In that order, they are: Republican Kay Ivey, Republican Kim Reynolds, Democrat Laura Kelly, Democrat Janet Mills, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer and Republican Kristi Noem.

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Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey stands on stage during the state's Democratic Party Convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. Healey, who won the Democratic gubernatorial primary on Tuesday, could become the first woman and first openly gay candidate elected governor in Massachusetts.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul won a first full term after taking over the top job in 2021 after Andrew Cuomo's resignation. Come January, she will become the first elected female governor in the state.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey waves as she arrives to deliver her State of the State address at the Capitol in Montgomery on Jan. 11.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly speaks to supporters at an election night party after calling it a night with the race too close to call on Nov. 9, 2022, in Topeka, Kan. Kelly was declared winner later that day.
Democratic Gov. Janet Mills celebrates at her reelection party, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Portland, Maine. Mills defeated Republican Paul LePage and independent Sam Hunkler.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (L) gestures next to US President Joe Biden during a rally hosted by the Democratic Party of New Mexico at Ted M. Gallegos Community Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on November 3, 2022.

In addition to Massachusetts, three states – Arkansas, Arizona and Oregon – elected new female governors.

In Arkansas, Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House press secretary in the Trump administration, will become the state’s first female chief after being elected to the job her father, Mike Huckabee, held from 1996 to 2007.

Meanwhile, Arkansas and Massachusetts will also become the first states to have women serving in the governor and lieutenant governor positions at the same time, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

In Arizona and Oregon, votes were still being tallied as of Thursday afternoon, but candidates in those gubernatorial races are all women. Those states are included in the record-setting 12.

Democrat Katie Hobbs, the Arizona secretary of state, was leading Republican Kari Lake in Arizona as of Thursday morning by a slight margin.

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Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was elected Arkansas governor on Tuesday, becoming the first woman to lead the state and the highest profile Trump administration official in elected office.
Kari Lake enters the polling center at the Downtown Phoenix Post Office to cast her ballot with her children on Nov. 8, 2022.

In Oregon, Democrat Tina Kotek, a former state House speaker and another lesbian gubernatorial candidate, was ahead of Republican Christine Drazan, a former state House minority leader. Meanwhile, former state Sen. Betsy Johnson, an independent, garnered less than 10% of the vote as of Thursday morning. 

Another lesbian gubernatorial candidate, Tina Kotek of Oregon, could join Healey's spot in history once votes have been tallied. That election was also too close to call Thursday.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake speaks to supporters at a campaign event in Queen Creek, Ariz., Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. Lake will face Democrat Katie Hobbs in the general election in November.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, with her family behind her, speaks after winning reelection on Tuesday evening, November 8, 2022, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Sioux Falls.
Gubernatorial hopeful Tina Kotek speaks to supporters during an election night party for the Democratic Party of Oregon at the Hyatt Regency in Portland, Ore. on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.
Gubernatorial hopeful Christine Drazan speaks during an election party on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022 at the Oregon Garden in Silverton, Ore.

Before Tuesday's midterms, 2022 set a record for the number of all-female gubernatorial races.

Before this year, there had been only four woman-versus-woman gubernatorial matchups in all of history, according to the Rutgers center. CAWP.

But in 2022, 25 women were nominated for governor by Democrats and Republicans, marking another historical record. 

Natalie Neysa Alund covers trending news for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.