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In our continuing coverage of New Mexico’s centennial year, we focus today on women in New Mexico politics.
For the first 10 years of statehood, New Mexico had no women in politics. During that period we were the only state west of the Mississippi not to allow women to vote except for education officials. But with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, that changed and women began making up for lost time.
In 1922, two women were elected to statewide office and one to the state House of Representatives. In addition, Adelina “Ninai” Otero Warren won the Republican nomination to Congress but was defeated in the general election.
Soledad Chavez de Chacon was elected secretary of state in 1922. She was the nation’s first woman to hold this high public office, which is second in the line of succession to the governor. In 1924, Gov. Jim Hinkle decided to attend the Republican National Convention. The lieutenant governor unexpectedly died before Hinkle departed.
That meant Chacon would be governor for two weeks. A major battle erupted over whether a woman could handle the job. Chacon martialed her forces and prevailed. Nearly 90 years later, when Susana Martinez became the stateís first woman governor, a few people with good memories, contended that Martinez is only second.
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