What a difference one woman makes.

Not counting a race that's considered too close to call, the number of women in the New Jersey Legislature will drop by one — or possibly two — when Tuesday's winners are sworn in early next year.

That means the Garden State drops from 12th in the nation to 15th for the proportion of women in its Legislature.

Out of the 77 females who ran for a seat in the state Senate or Assembly, 36 were successful, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

But that figure includes a seat won by incumbent Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, D-Essex, who will have to give up that seat when she takes over as lieutenant governor in January.

"Depending on who the Democratic Party picks to be her replacement, we could have as few as 35 women in the legislature," said CAWP Director Debbie Walsh.

And it's not due to a lack of trying. Walsh pointed to a record number of women running for Senate.

In the 8th Legislative District, meanwhile, two women are among four Assembly candidates in a race that could go to a recount, Walsh said.

"We might pick up another woman there but it's probably unlikely," she said.

Out of the 33 incumbent women who ran for re-election in New Jersey's legislative races, state Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, was the only one to lose.

CAWP noted Oliver will be the first Democratic, black lieutenant governor in the history of the country, and the first person of color elected to a statewide executive position in New Jersey. Including Oliver, just four African-American women have ever won the post nationwide.

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