OLYMPIA, Wash. — Sen. Steve Hobbs, a Democrat, is leading in the primary race for Washington Secretary of State with 41% of the vote as the latest round of ballots were counted.
Current Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who is running nonpartisan, trails Hobbs with 13% of the vote. Republican challengers Bob Hagglund and Keith Wagoner trail with 12% each.
KING 5 political analyst and former Washington Governor Gary Locke said the secretary of state seat is a position the Democratic party has long wanted. The seat was previously held by Republican candidates for decades.
"It shows, how many times in Washington people oftentimes really vote by the strength of the candidate and not necessarily by the party," Locke said. "Nonetheless this would be a great opportunity to extend the Democratic reach to more statewide offices and we got two good candidates quite frankly."
The election could be historic if Anderson secures the nomination because she's running nonpartisan, KING 5 political analyst and former Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna said.
"We get to see whether voters can be persuaded to vote for someone who refuses to run as a partisan for this office, or really any office, because I don't think we've seen a nonpartisan win," McKenna said. "(Anderson) is clearly benefitting from the fact that the large number of Republican candidates for secretary of state split the vote up."
Democrats regained hold of Washington’s secretary of state office for the first time in more than five decades when Hobbs was sworn into the position last November, following an appointment by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee to fill the seat.
Hobbs is attempting to hang on to the office for the remaining two years of former Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s four-year term.
Wyman was the fifth consecutive GOP secretary of state in Washington dating back to 1965, but left for a key election security job in the Biden administration.
Hobbs said he was “very heartened by the numbers.” He said the results show that voters trust him.
“I think the people wanted someone who would protect our elections from cyber-security threats, misinformation, disinformation, and do more voter outreach,” said Hobbs.
“I’m feeling terrific,” said Anderson, who said it will likely be Friday before the two candidates for the November ballot will be finalized.
But she added, “I have a lot of confidence.”
Anderson said voters agree with her: political parties should not be involved in the secretary of state’s office.
“Voters were just waiting for a candidate who had professional experience without party strings attached,” said Anderson over a Zoom interview, “They've never had that opportunity to select a candidate like that before. And clearly, they were hungry for it.”
In addition to being the state’s chief elections officer, the secretary of state also serves as chief corporations officer and supervisor of the state archives and state library.
Hobbs raised more than $400,000, followed by Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who raised nearly $170,000. Also in the race is former Sen. Mark Miloscia, Tamborine Borrelli, and Keith Wagoner.
Anderson, who has been Pierce County auditor for the past 12 years, noted that she’s led Pierce County’s elections team through three presidential elections and has managed hundreds of elections.
Miloscia said that he wants more audits of the system, saying that "the voters have lost confidence in what we’re doing.”
There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Washington state, and Wyman, the former Republican secretary of state, regularly touted the safety and security of the vote-by-mail system.
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