SEATTLE — Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs — looking to become the first Democrat elected secretary of state in more than 60 years — led his nonpartisan challenger, Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, 50% to 46.9% on election night.
Hobbs was leading in King and Snohomish counties after Tuesday’s vote count; Anderson was ahead in Pierce County. Election officials will continue counting ballots for several days.
Hobbs has held the office for about a year since he was appointed to fill the vacancy after Republican Kim Wyman left for an election security position in the Biden administration.
Republicans have held the office since 1964, even as they’ve been shut out of every other statewide office in recent years.
A crowded field of Republicans split the conservative vote in the August primary election allowing Anderson to advance to the general election.
State Rep. Brad Klippert, a Republican from Kennewick who wants to ban mail voting and who has falsely claimed widespread fraud in the 2020 election, ran a write-in campaign. All write-in candidates had 3.1% of the vote in early counts.
Over a four-year term, the secretary of state supervises and certifies elections, registers businesses and nonprofits and preserves the state’s historical records.
Secretaries of state across the country have taken on heightened importance amid former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and Republican fearmongering about voter fraud. But neither Hobbs nor Anderson want major changes to Washington’s vote-by-mail system. Both said it’s already fairly easy to vote, and any changes should be at the edges.
Hobbs was the first Washington secretary of state in two decades to take office without experience as an elections administrator.
A lieutenant colonel in the Washington Army National Guard and former state senator, he ran on a platform of protecting elections through improvements in cybersecurity and pushing back against misinformation and disinformation. He also touted the successful February, April and August elections that were conducted under his supervision this year.
“I’m going to get off stage before I break down and cry,” Hobbs said Tuesday at an election party. “We have a lot of work to do.”
Anderson, who oversaw elections in Pierce County for 13 years, ran on that experience and her nonpartisan label. She’s said the secretary of state position is “ministerial” and should be strictly nonpartisan.
She was working Tuesday, supporting staff as they processed ballots.
“Regardless of the outcome, I stand ready to lead our elections process forward,” she said in a statement Tuesday night.
Hobbs raised more than $785,000 compared to about $345,000 raised by Anderson.
Both campaigns, at times, attacked each other from the left. The state Democratic Party criticized Anderson for speaking at Republican events. And Anderson, late in the campaign, ran ads designed to appeal to progressives, attacking Hobbs as a moderate legislator who opposed gun control and climate change legislation.
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