M. Ferguson attended Salado College and Baylor Female College in Belton. When her husband was prohibited from placing his name on the ballot in 1924, she entered the governor’s race. Supporters called her “Ma” because most of her energy was spent providing for her husband and their two daughters during his term; her first name and middle initial also spelled “Ma.” Assuring voters that if she were elected that they would get “two governors for the price of one,” she sought vindication for the Ferguson name, promised extensive state funding cuts, opposed new liquor legislation, and condemned the Ku Klux Klan.
M. Ferguson was the first woman governor of Texas and the second woman governor in the United States. Her administration was characterized with controversy and political strife—she supported an anti-mask law against the Ku Klux Klan, only to have it overturned in court, state expenditures were slightly increased after she promised a decrease, and discontent developed over irregularities of pardons, which averaged 100 per month. Both she and “Pa” were accused of accepting bribes awarding road contracts to friends. While impeachment efforts failed, Ferguson was defeated by Attorney General Daniel Moody in her 1926 bid for re-election.