Updated Nov 11, 2022 - Politics

Steve Hobbs breaks Washington Democrats' losing streak for secretary of state

A man stands at a podium looking over to one side.

Photo courtesy of Steve Hobbs campaign

Steve Hobbs has broken Democrats' 58-year-losing streak when it comes to Washington's secretary of state's office.

Driving the news: Nonpartisan candidate Julie Anderson conceded to Hobbs on Thursday after trailing him 46.86%% to 49.34% on the third day of vote counting.

Why it matters: The secretary of state is Washington's top elections official, in charge of ensuring vote-by-mail elections run smoothly and securely.

Flashback: Republicans held a tight grip on Washington's secretary of state office from 1964 through last year, when Hobbs was appointed to replace former Republican Kim Wyman, who left for a job in the Biden administration.

  • But no Republicans advanced from the August primary, setting up an unusual general election matchup between a nonpartisan and a Democrat.
  • Hobbs' win at the ballot box means he'll complete the last two years of Wyman's term — and be the first Democrat elected to the position in more than six decades.

Context: Washington has never before elected a nonpartisan secretary of state, so Anderson faced an uphill climb from the beginning.

  • She also fended off less-than-accurate attacks from the state Democratic party, which tried to paint her as a closet Republican who opposed increased access to voting.
  • Anderson, who has aligned with Democrats in the past, said it's important for election officials like her to remain out of party politics. She's been nonpartisan for the past 12 years as she has served as Pierce County's elected auditor, a job that involves overseeing elections
  • She and her supporters argued that experience made her more qualified than Hobbs to take on the job of the state's chief elections official.

Yes, but: Hobbs, a former state senator, said his record of bipartisan work in the legislature has prepared him for the challenges of the statewide office, along with his experience leading the COVID-19 response in Western Washington as a lieutenant colonel in the state's Army National Guard.

What they're saying: Anderson wrote in a statement Thursday that she "knew this would be a tough race but believed strongly it needed to be run."

  • "Voters deserved to have the choice of an experienced elections administrator — without party strings attached," she wrote. "While many voters made that choice, it wasn’t quite enough."
  • In an email to supporters, Hobbs said he is proud of the campaign he ran and thanked Anderson for conceding in a timely manner.
  • "We ran a campaign that focused on priorities relevant to all Washingtonians and across our country: enhancing our cybersecurity, fighting dangerous election misinformation, and enfranchising communities of underserved eligible voters," Hobbs wrote.

Of note: In addition to elections, the secretary of state oversees the state's archives, as well as registration of corporations and charities.

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