Forty-four women have served as a state governor in the United States, with nine of them currently serving. However, none of them have ever been an African-American women. In 2022, that big zero might change, with a stellar five Black female candidates announced and considered serious contenders to take on their state’s top leadership position.
STACEY ABRAMS, Georgia
Stacey Abrams is back and running again for governor of Georgia after a close but disappointing loss in 2018. To the delight of her many supporters, Abrams announced her intention to run again on Dec. 1. It’s a run that will likely have her running again against her former opponent, now Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.
After her loss, Abrams turned her focus to voting rights and through her work with Fair Fight Action, was pivotal in galvanizing enough voters to turn the previously red state blue. For her work, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Abrams is a veteran politician who already made history as the first woman and first Black person to serve as House Minority Leader in the Georgia General Assembly House of Representatives.
CONNIE JOHNSON, Oklahoma
Constance “Connie” Johnson is no stranger to running for a statewide office. This is her second run for governor. She ran in 2018, finishing second in her Democratic primary. She also previously ran for U.S. Senate, winning her party’s nomination with 58% of the vote.
Johnson, a former Oklahoma state senator, served two terms from 2006 to 2014. Raised in and still a resident of Oklahoma City, Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in French and two master’s degrees, one in education and another in rehabilitation counseling from Langston University. Johnson spent more than 20 years working as a legislative analyst.
Her areas of focus include: health care expansion, public safety, public health, abolition of the death penalty, and infrastructure improvements.
DANIELLE ALLEN, Massachusetts
Allen holds degrees from Princeton, the University of Cambridge and a PhD in government from Harvard. Hailing from a long line of activists, Allen has continued that legacy work, making a name for herself in the nonprofit sector as a leader, policy innovator and educator.
As a Harvard professor, she was responsible for spearheading the COVID response team that sparked the Biden-Harris Pandemic Testing Board to help build out COVID testing resources. Her areas of focus are housing, transportation, schools, and good jobs.
DEIDRE DEJEAR, Iowa
Raised in Oklahoma, DeJear originally made her way to Iowa to attend Drake University. She fell in love with the state and has been there ever since. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. A social impact entrepreneur, DeJear founded Back to School Iowa, a nonprofit aimed at supporting youth in their educational pursuits. She went on to open her own business helping provide small businesses with affordable marketing tools.
Her areas of focus are economic development, voting rights, education equity, affordable and accessible healthcare, building a competitive technology hub and environmental justice.
LETITIA JAMES, New York
When she entered the race in October on the heels of the resignation of Andrew Cuomo, the New York attorney general was easily considered a top contender. However, on Dec. 9, James withdrew from the race announcing she would instead seek reelection to her current position. While she never explained the move, opinion polls had shown James trailing Gov. Kathy Hochul by double digits among Democratic primary voters.
James, a Brooklyn native and veteran politician, made history when she became the first Black woman to be elected to statewide office in New York. She has garnered support from liberals for her suing of the National Rifle Association, investigation of former President Donald Trump and inquiry into the allegations against Cuomo.
MIA MCLEOD, South Carolina
McLeod is a seventh generation South Carolinian whose family has run a small business in her hometown of Bennettsville for over a century. She has served as CEO of her own company for nearly two decades, worked as a college educator and been one of the state’s top victim advocates, working with attorneys general and governors to tackle South Carolina’s domestic violence crisis. The first Black woman to hold a state senate seat and the mother of two adult males, McLeod is hoping to create a new South Carolina that better represents the issues and values of all its residents