By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton today appointed Tina Smith to succeed Al Franken in the US Senate.

She’ll join Senator Amy Klobuchar– the first time in state history Minnesota will have 2 female Senators. Almost a hundred years since women won the right to vote, there’s still not a high percentage of women elected to public office.

Women make up more than half of the population, but only a small percentage of elected officials. Here’s where it stands now:

Women are 50.8 percent of the U.S. population. According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers, women make up only 24.9 percent of state governments, 19.6 percent of the seats in Congress, and 8.3 percent of the governor’s offices.

Political research shows women who run for political office are as likely to win as men, but women are less likely to run.

And when they do run, women face obstacles men do not.

Coya Knutson was the first women elected to Congress from Minnesota in 1955. She lost re-election in 1959 after a sexist smear against her. Fellow Democrats conspired with her husband back home to write a public letter suggesting marital trouble, imploring her to come back to “the happy home we once enjoyed.”

Fifty-nine years later, Minnesota still has only one female Congresswoman, now two female Senator and 65 female lawmakers — 32.3 percent of the legislature.

Minnesota ranks 9th in the country for electing women to office. Arizona tops that list at 40 percent, with Wyoming at the bottom with 11.1 percent

Tina Smith’s appointment is good until a special election next November. She says she’ll seek a six-year term in 2020.

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