More women than ever are general election candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in 2012, according to the Center for American Women and Politics.

With primaries still to come in ten states, 17 women have won nominations for the U.S. Senate and 154 for the House. The previous records were 14 Senate nominees in 2010 and 141 House nominees in 2004.

Currently, 17 women serve in the Senate and 73 in the House. Three women also serve as non-voting delegates from Washington DC, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"Women have worked hard to take advantage of this year of opportunity," noted CAWP director Debbie Walsh, "Those efforts are paying off in the form of more women candidates, including many first-time candidates at the state and federal levels."

New Jersey can do better, said Walsh, with only four women winning primaries this year.

"We are a state that for quite a few years now has had no women representing us down at the federal delegation in Washingtion, D.C."

That is in start contrast to our neighbors in New York and Pennsylvania.

"Pennsylvania has one woman, New York has a few, but New Jersey doesn't have any representation in D.C. and that's certainly a problem" added Walsh.

The last woman to serve in the U.S. House from New Jersey was Marge Roukema, a Republican from Bergen County, who held the seat for two decades, 1981 to 2003.

In contrast to the upswing in congressional candidates, few women are running for governor this year. There are only 11 gubernatorial races, and only four women filed to run in any of those races. The two candidates still in the running are in the same state, New Hampshire, so there will be at most one woman candidate for governor in the general election.

The number of women governors is certain to drop; among the six women currently serving, two are stepping down.

On the positive side, New Jersey has made great strides on the state legislative side.

"We now rank 10th in the nation for the percentage of women in our state legislature, and about 29% of our state legislature is now made up of women. That is a big change from a few years ago, when we ranked in the bottom half on the nation" said Walsh.