Republicans shut out of Washington Secretary of State race

Olympia capitol
Ted S. Warren

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Until Democratic state Sen. Steve Hobbs was appointed as Washington’s secretary of state last November, Republicans had a hold on the office for 56 years. Now, they’ve been shut out of the general election.

Hobbs captured about 40% of the vote and easily advanced to the November ballot in last week’s primary. Claiming the second spot Tuesday was Pierce County auditor Julie Anderson, who had garnered just under 13% running as a nonpartisan. There were multiple Republicans in the race, and candidates Sen. Keith Wagoner and Bob Hagglund topped the list, nearly tied at about 12%.

Under Washington’s top-two primary, the top two vote getters advance to the November ballot, regardless of party.

Hobbs left his Senate seat representing the 44th legislative district to replace Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who was the fifth consecutive GOP secretary of state in Washington dating back to 1965 before taking a key election security job in the Biden administration.

Hobbs is seeking to fill the remaining two years of Wyman’s term, and has pointed to his experience as a Washington National Guard lieutenant colonel and his months running the office to say why he’s best positioned to address issues ranging from cybersecurity concerns to election misinformation.

Anderson has said her 12 years managing elections make her best prepared for the job, and she says she believes the secretary of state’s office should not be affiliated with a political party.

“A competitive election for this important office is what voters deserved,” Anderson said in a texted statement. “I’m grateful to all the voters who set aside their political interests, put their trust in me, and cast their vote for the experienced, nonpartisan candidate.”

The four Republicans on the crowded ballot split the vote in such a way that gave Anderson the edge.

Sen Keith Wagoner captured most of the GOP vote, with 12.1%, followed by Bob Hagglund at just 11.9%. Former Sen. Mark Miloscia — now head of the conservative Family Policy Institute — had raised the most money among the Republicans but trailed in fifth place. Tamborine Borrelli, an “America First” candidate who was fined by the state Supreme Court in June for making legally meritless claims alleging widespread voter fraud received just over 4% of the vote and was in seventh place.

In a statement, Hobbs said that “Washington state continues to demonstrate the success, security and accessibility of our mail-in elections.”

“I’m heartened by the results in our campaign for Secretary of State and look forward to reaching even more voters before the general election this fall,” he wrote.

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.

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