SEATTLE — Democratic incumbent Secretary of State Steve Hobbs won in overwhelming fashion over a primary field of seven challengers Tuesday, grabbing 41 percent of the vote as he seeks voter approval to serve out the remainder of the term he was appointed to last year.
Nonpartisan candidate Julie Anderson and Republicans Keith Wagoner and Bob Hagglund followed distantly with each capturing about 12 percent of the vote. Hobbs led in 30 of 39 counties, including King, Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap and Spokane. One of those three candidates will advance with Hobbs to the November general election.
“I am very enthusiastic about these numbers,” Hobbs said.
While some in the field question the state’s vote-by-mail system, Hobbs said Tuesday night it is “the way to go. It’s transparent and voter-friendly.”
While Republicans are currently shut out of statewide office in Washington and haven’t held the governor’s office in nearly four decades, they’ve enjoyed a stranglehold on the secretary of state’s office for nearly 60 years. Hobbs’ victory puts him in a good spot in his quest to become the first Democrat elected secretary of state since 1960.
Hobbs was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee last November to fill the vacancy created when Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman left to take an election security position in the Biden administration.
Vote totals will change a bit over the coming days as more ballots are counted and ballots postmarked by Election Day continue to trickle in.
Hobbs said he did not have a preference for who will face him in November.
The secretary of state supervises and certifies elections, registers businesses and nonprofits and preserves the state’s historical records. The position, in states across the country, has taken on a heightened importance amid Republican fear-mongering about voter fraud and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
A lieutenant colonel in the Washington Army National Guard and former state senator, Hobbs has run on a platform of protecting elections through improvements in cybersecurity and pushing back against misinformation and disinformation.
He is the first secretary of state in more than two decades to take office without experience as an elections administrator.
He has raised over $420,000, more than twice as much as any other candidate.
Anderson, the Pierce County auditor, is running as a nonpartisan, with her lack of party affiliation a big part of her pitch for the job. The only experienced elections administrator in the race, she said the job is “ministerial” and should be strictly nonpartisan.
Her first priority, she said, would be to run a larger election audit, one that samples a statistically valid number of ballots, in one statewide race, from each of Washington’s 39 counties. It would “enhance or complement” the audits that are already done at the county level.
Wagoner, a Skagit County state senator, pitched his campaign as one about returning to the voters’ will. Voters chose Wyman, a Republican, and the seat should be returned to a Republican, he said.
“They appreciate the balance and accountability of having someone from the minority party in that office,” he said.
Bob Hagglund, a businessman from Snohomish County, has described himself as a private-sector candidate. He has suggested implementing a voter-identification system and says he prefers in-person to mail-in voting. He has questioned the 2020 election and believes elections should be more transparent.
Mark Miloscia, a former state senator trailing with 9 percent, had expressed doubts about the 2020 elections, despite no evidence of widespread fraud. A former Democrat turned Republican, he was most recently director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington, a Christian public-policy group.
Tamborine Borrelli, whose “election integrity” group has been sanctioned for making legally meritless claims alleging widespread fraud, received 4 percent of the vote.