Steve Hobbs leads in race for Washington secretary of state
Why it matters: A win for Hobbs would cement Democrats' grip on Washington state government, with Democrats maintaining control of the Legislature and all nine statewide elected offices.
The latest: Hobbs led nonpartisan candidate Julie Anderson by about 3 percentage points in early returns on election night, with more ballots left to be counted, according to the secretary of state's office.
Flashback: Until Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Hobbs to fill a vacancy last year, Republicans held the secretary of state's office for 58 years straight.
- No Democrat has won election to the office since 1960.
Catch up quick: Washington has never had a nonpartisan secretary of state, which made Anderson's campaign a longshot from the start.
- But the longtime Pierce County auditor managed to defeat several Republican candidates in the top-two primary in August, setting up this year's unusual November matchup.
- Whichever candidate is elected will serve two years, completing former Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman's term after Wyman left for a job in the Biden administration. Another election is scheduled for the position in 2024.
Zoom in: Throughout the campaign, Anderson argued she is more qualified than Hobbs to serve as Washington's chief elections official, citing her 12 years running elections as county auditor.
- But Hobbs, a former state senator, said the role is more about leadership than election expertise, touting his experience leading the Washington National Guard's COVID-19 response in Western Washington.
- The candidates also disagreed about ranked choice voting, with Anderson supporting local jurisdictions adopting the reform, and Hobbs arguing it would confuse voters at a time when trust in elections is already low.
The intrigue: In recent weeks, the state Democratic Party and its chair, Tina Podlodowski, have attacked Anderson and tried to paint her as a secret conservative who has fought to limit voting access.
- But some of the party's claims stretched the truth — and several prominent Democrats publicly supported Anderson over the party chair's objections.
- Republicans staged their own write-in campaign for state Rep. Brad Klippert. As of election night, about 3% of voters had written in someone other than Hobbs or Anderson, according to the secretary of state's office.
What's next: More votes will be counted in the election in the coming days, which could shift the results somewhat.
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