Washington secretary of state race will move forward without Republican candidate

·5 min read

The field for Washington’s secretary of state race is now officially set, with incumbent Democrat Steve Hobbs and nonpartisan Julie Anderson set to advance to the November general election.

Republicans have held the office for five decades, but a Democrat is in the position now.

While counties run local elections, they are overseen by the secretary of state, Washington’s chief election officer.

Former Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman held the role since 2013 but resigned in 2021 after accepting an appointment to a federal election security role. She now serves as senior election security lead for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which operates under the Department of Homeland Security and is the nation’s lead agency for cyber, infrastructure and election security.

After her resignation, Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Democratic state Sen. Steve Hobbs to fill the role until this year’s general election. Up until then, Wyman was the only elected Republican serving at the state executive level.

Hobbs had served as a state senator for the 44th legislative district in Mill Creek since 2007. A Washingtonian and an Asian American, he is the first person of color to serve as secretary of state.

He received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington and completed Defense Information School through the U.S. Department of Defense.

Hobbs faced off against several challengers on the primary ballot to complete the last two years of Wyman’s term.

>>Secretary of State addresses election misinformation after signs appear near drop boxes

At a recent forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Washington and The Spokesman-Review, candidates were asked if there are opportunities for voter fraud in Washington’s vote-by-mail system.

“Yeah, there are opportunities, but we catch them and they have been caught. I think what we do a poor job of is letting people know what the process is and what systems are in place to catch some of this,” Hobbs said.

A nonpartisan challenger

Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson has overseen many elections as she has worked in local elections for more than 12 years and is running as an independent.

Anderson -- who received 13% of the vote in the August secretary of state primary -- is serving her final term as auditor due to term limitations.

She was a Tacoma City council member from 2004 to 2009.

“We have the gold standard election system that is the envy of the nation, but there is more work to be done. We can make our elections even more accessible, even more transparent and even more secure,” Anderson said.

She has also expressed her belief that it is crucial to remove all politics from the secretary of state’s office, and that as a nonpartisan candidate, she is uniquely qualified to do just that.

Republican State Sen. Keith Wagoner trailed closed behind Anderson in third with 12% of votes.

He had argued that voters have long shown a preference for a Republican secretary of state, which he says Inslee failed to acknowledge when he appointed Hobbs after Wyman’s resignation.

Wagoner was appointed to his state Senate seat in January 2018 and won a four-year term representing the 39th Legislative District later that year. The district comprises a swatch of rural Snohomish and Skagit counties and a portion of King County.

Bob Hagglund came in close to Wagoner’s total, falling short of the fellow Republican candidate by just over 3,000 votes. Hagglund works as a health care data scientist and software developer who supports a voter identification system, calling election systems substandard.

“We really just can’t have that type of uncertainty in large blocks of people and trying to propagandize to them or try to advertise them into agreeing the system is good is not the best way to do it,” Hagglund said in a recent candidate forum.

Republican Mark Miloscia, a former state senator and director of the Family Policy Institute, came in fifth in the primary after Hagglund.

Miloscia is also a retired Air Force officer and holds a bachelor’s in engineering from the Air Force Academy, a master’s in clinical psychology from Chapman University, and an MBA from the University of North Dakota.

“What we have to do is show the evidence that things are correct, 100% verification. We do not have 100% verification of voters, of making sure the count is done absolutely correct, two-party validation,” Miloscia said.

Democrat Marquez Tiggs, was next in sixth, having served in the U.S. Army and holding a bachelor’s in applied science from Grand Canyon University. During his campaign, he spoke of wanting to bring back in-person voting in disenfranchised areas.

“I am here to give voters hope and to restore confidence in our election process and our democracy,” Tiggs said.

Candidate Tamborine Borrelli, with the America First Republican Party and director of Washington Election Integrity Coalition United, or WEiCU, has levied claims that hundreds of thousands of votes across the state were illegally altered in 2020 and that local auditors “used uncertified voting systems” to tabulate ballots.

Borrelli filed election fraud lawsuits in Franklin, Clark, King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. She garnered just 5% of the vote in the August primary.

In addition to overseeing elections, the secretary of state’s office registers businesses and charities, as well as maintains the state’s historic records.

To view all the latest results of the August 2 primary election, visit KIRO7.com/election.

Information from The Associated Press and MYNorthwest was used in this report.