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Women in Ohio Statewide Office

Ohio has six statewide elected offices: state treasurer, secretary of state, state auditor, attorney general, lieutenant governor, and governor.

In the 2018 election, there were initially four women who had announced they were running for governor. None of them made it past the primary.

"When will a woman be elected governor of Ohio?" — Cleveland.com, February 4, 2018

As of the 2018 election:

  • There are no women in statewide office.
  • No woman has ever run under a major-party label for governor in a general election.
  • Only nine women have served in Ohio’s six statewide offices in the history of the state.
  • The first woman to serve in statewide office was Democrat Gertrude Donahey, who successfully ran for state treasurer in 1970.

History by the Numbers

CWPO Women in Ohio Statewide Office (download pdf)
This document contains election information on the nine women who have served in statewide office in Ohio.

Nancy Hollister: Ohio's Only Female Governor

Nancy Hollister headshot
Nancy Hollister

Ohio has had a female governor – for 11 days. In the 1970s, Republican Nancy Hollister served on the Marietta City Council and became the city’s first female mayor in 1983. In 1994, she became the state’s first female lieutenant governor, as the running-mate of Republican gubernatorial candidate George Voinovich. In 1998, Voinovich ran for US Senate, won, and resigned as governor on December 31. Hollister then became governor, until Republican Bob Taft, who had run for Voinovich’s empty seat, was sworn in on January 11.
Photo: Ohio History Connection


Since 1958, Ohio’s governor has served a four-year term, limited to two terms. Like all of Ohio’s statewide offices, gubernatorial elections fall in midterm election cycles.

As of the 2018 election, in addition to Nancy Hollister, 63 men have served as Ohio's governor. Forty-nine, over three-fourths, had prior experience in the US Congress or in statewide office prior to being governor:

  • 7 (11%) served in the US Senate.
  • 19 (30%) served in the US House of Representatives.
  • 18 (28%) served in statewide office.

Lieutenant Governor

Beginning in 1978, lieutenant governors and governors ran together as running-mates, serving four-year terms, limited to two terms.

As of the 2018 election, out of the 58 people who have served as lieutenant governor, four (7%) have been women. All of these women were running-mates.

Nancy Hollister was the first woman to serve as lieutenant governor, successfully running with Republican George Voinovich in 1994.

Maureen O'Connor followed Hollister in 1998, successfully running with Republican Bob Taft. O’Connor left the office after one term to serve on the state supreme court.

Jennette Bradley headshotJennette Bradley

In 2002, both major parties had African-American female candidates for lieutenant governor; Democrat Charleta Tavares, a former member of the Ohio House, who ran with Tim Hagan, was defeated by incumbent Governor Taft and his new running mate, Jennette Bradley, the first and only African American woman to hold the office. Bradley would serve as lieutenant governor for two years and moved over to the state treasurer’s office in 2005. Photo: Cincinnati Inquirer


In addition to 2002, in 2010 and 2014, both parties would have women on their tickets in the lieutenant governor spot. In 2010, Republican Mary Taylor, running with John Kasich, would narrowly defeat incumbent Governor Ted Strickland and his new running-mate, Yvette McGee Brown. Kasich and Taylor would run for reelection in 2014, defeating Democrats Ed Fitzgerald and Sharen Neuhardt.

State Treasurer

Ohioans have been electing the state treasurer since statehood in 1803. The term of office is four years, limited to two terms.

As of the 2018 election, out of the 46 people who have served as state treasurer, three (7%) have been women.

Gertrude Donahey and Mary Ellen Winthrow headshot(l-r) Gertrude Donahey, Mary Ellen Winthrow

The first statewide office to ever be held by a woman was state treasurer, when Democrat Gertrude Donahey successfully ran in 1970. Donahey would win two more terms and be followed by Democrat Mary Ellen Winthrow in 1982. Winthrow would also serve two terms and was the last woman to be elected to the position, serving until 1994.
Photos: Columbus Citizen-Journal/photohio.org

Jennette Bradley, an African-American Republican, was appointed state treasurer in 2005 by Governor Bob Taft, after serving as lieutenant governor. Bradley served as treasurer until 2007; she was defeated in the 2006 Republican primary by Sandra O’Brien, who would lose the general election to Democrat Rob Cordray.

Secretary of State

Ohioans began electing the secretary of state in 1852. The term of office is four years, limited to two terms.

As of the 2018 election, out of the 42 people who have served as secretary of state, one has been a woman.

Jennifer Brunner headshot
Jennifer Brunner

Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, successfully ran in 2006 and served one term. In 2010, rather than seek reelection for secretary of state, Brunner ran for the open US Senate seat created when Senator George Voinovich announced he was resigning. She was defeated by Lee Fisher in the Democratic primary. Photo: Cleveland.com


Attorney General

Ohioans began electing the attorney general in 1852. The term of office is four years, limited to two terms.

As of the 2018 election, out of the 47 people have served as attorney general, two have been women.

Betty Montgomery, a Republican, defeated incumbent Democrat Lee Fisher in a close race with 51% of the two-party vote in 1994. Montgomery held on to the seat in 1998, beating Democrat Richard Cordray by 24 points. After being termed out, Montgomery successfully ran for state auditor in 2002.

In 2006, Montgomery initially ran for governor, but dropped out, and ran again for attorney general against Democrat Marc Dann. Montgomery’s defeat came as a surprise; even Dann admitted that he had not expected to win. Dann would resign in May, 2008, after a variety of corruption scandals. Governor Ted Strickland appointed Nancy Rogers, the Dean of the Ohio State University Law School. After completing the unexpired term, Rogers returned to teaching at Ohio State.

State Auditor

Ohioans have been electing the state auditor since statehood in 1803. The term of office is four years, limited to two terms.

As of the 2018 election, out of the 31 people who have served as state auditor, two have been women.

Betty Montgomery, a Republican who had served two terms as the first female attorney general, defeated Helen Smith, in 2002 to become the state’s first female state auditor and served one term.

Mary Taylor headshot
Mary Taylor

In 2006, Republican Mary Taylor would defeat Democrat Barbara Sykes with 51% of the two-party vote for state auditor. Taylor served one term before successfully running as lieutenant governor in 2010 with John Kasich. Prior to running for state auditor, she served two terms in the Ohio state house of representatives from 2003 to 2006. Photo: Ohio Governor’s Office