By RACHEL LA CORTE
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Democrats regained hold of Washington’s secretary of state office for the first time in more than five decades when Sen. Steve Hobbs was sworn into the position last November, following an appointment by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee to fill the seat.
Now, Hobbs faces challengers – including several Republicans and a long-serving elections official from Pierce County who is running as a non-partisan – as he attempts 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.
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.
Ballots were mailed to the state’s nearly 4.8 million voters last week for the Aug. 2 primary. Under the state’s primary system, the top two vote getters advance to the general election in November, regardless of party.
Hobbs has raised the most among the candidates for the race to date, more than $403,000, followed by Pierce County auditor Julie Anderson, who has raised nearly $170,000. Among the Republicans in the race, former Sen. Mark Miloscia – who is now head of the conservative Family Policy Institute – has raised the most, more than $59,000. Tamborine Borrelli – an “America First” candidate who was fined by the state Supreme Court last month for making legally meritless claims alleging widespread voter fraud — has raised nearly $48,000 and Sen. Keith Wagoner – who has been endorsed by former Secretary of State Sam Reed – has raised about $38,000. Both skipped a recent televised forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.
During that forum, Hobbs pointed to his experience as a Washington National Guard lieutenant and the months he’s already spent in the office as why he’s best positioned to address issues ranging from cybersecurity concerns to election misinformation and disinformation.
“No other candidate except for me has the experience to combat these issues,” he said.
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.
“The hyperpolarization that’s so painful in our country right now and in Washington state is only going to get worse,” she said on why she’s running as a non-partisan. “We don’t need political parties in the secretary of state’s office calling balls and strikes at home plate.”
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.