Nevada Becomes First State With Women-Majority Legislature

The Nevada legislature breaks a glass ceiling. Photo: Lance Iversen/AP/REX/Shutterstock

A couple of postelection appointments to vacant positions in the Nevada State Assembly included one in which criminal defense lawyer Rochelle Thuy Nguyen succeeded Chris Brooks as a Democrat representing Clark County. That officially gave the state a historic landmark, as the New York Times noted:

[W]omen will hold 32 of 63 seats in the Nevada Legislature when the next session begins in February, about 51 percent. No state house in history had ever crossed the 50 percent mark….

New Hampshire previously had majority women representation in the state Senate, but women were not the overall majority in the Capitol.

Though no other state had a dramatic breakthrough like Nevada’s, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports broad-based increases in the number of women elected as lawmakers this year:

NCSL’s preliminary analysis suggests that at least 2,073 women will occupy seats in the 50 state houses, an increase of more than 190 than during the 2018 session. The nationwide share of female legislators will be around 28.1 percent, nearly 3 percentage points higher than in 2018.

There hasn’t been an increase in the share of women this large since another significant election: 1992, also deemed the “Year of the Woman.” That was when the nationwide percentage of elected women jumped from 18.4 to 20.5 percent….

Among the states that will have the highest percentages of women in 2019, in addition to Nevada, are Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, Alaska, Arizona, Maine and Washington.

These election results reflected a big jump in the number of women running for office at all levels. Debbie Walsh of the Center for American Women and Politics summed it up succinctly:

After decades of stagnation in the number of women running for and holding state legislative seats, passing this milestone [in Nevada] makes the gains of 2018 all the more significant, and it shows once again that if we have the candidates, we can get the officeholders. This year we had the candidates.

According to CAWP, Democrats outnumber Republicans by a more than two-to-one margin (1,431 to 660) among the women who will be serving in state legislatures in 2019.

Nevada also has two Democratic women representing the state in the U.S. Senate, one of six states with all-women Senate delegations. And Nevada kept its four-member House delegation gender equal, with Susie Lee succeeding Jacky Rosen in the Third Congressional District as Rosen ascended to the Senate.

Nevada the First State With Women-Majority Legislature