Steve Hobbs, who was sworn in as Washington Secretary of State, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, poses in front of photos of the 15 people who previously held his office. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Steve Hobbs, who was sworn in as Washington Secretary of State, Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, poses in front of photos of the 15 people who previously held his office. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Washington’s secretary of state draws several challengers

Sen. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens was sworn into the position last November. Now, he faces challengers.

Herald staff and Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Democrats regained hold of Washington’s secretary of state office for the first time in more than five decades when Sen. Steve Hobbs was sworn into the position last November.

Now, as he tries to keep the job, Hobbs faces seven opponents — including three Republicans, a long-serving elections official from Pierce County and the leader of a group contending widespread fraud occurred in Washington in the 2020 election.

Nearly 4.8 million voters have received ballots for the Aug. 2 primary. The top two vote getters advance to the general election in November, regardless of party.

Hobbs, a moderate Democrat from Lake Stevens, was appointed to the post by Gov. Jay Inslee after Kim Wyman, a Republican, left to work in the Biden administration. She was the fifth consecutive Republican to hold the office in Washington dating back to 1965.

Whoever wins this year’s election will serve the remaining two years of Wyman’s term. They will be Washington’s chief elections officer and oversee several other entities including the state archives and the state library. The job pays $136,996 a year.

Hobbs, at a recent forum, pointed to his experience as a Washington National Guard lieutenant and the months he’s already spent in the office as why he’s best positioned to address issues ranging from cybersecurity concerns to election misinformation and disinformation.

“No other candidate except for me has the experience to combat these issues,” he said.

Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson is among the challengers. She was elected to the nonpartisan post in 2009 and is the lone election professional in the race. She cites her experience overseeing hundreds of elections and guiding the Pierce County election team through three presidential contests.

There’s nothing wrong with political parties, she said, but those overseeing the conduct of elections shouldn’t be partisan.

“The hyperpolarization that’s so painful in our country right now and in Washington state is only going to get worse,” she said on why she’s running as a non-partisan. “We don’t need political parties in the secretary of state’s office calling balls and strikes at home plate.”

Also running are Republicans Mark Miloscia of Federal Way and state Sen. Keith Wagoner of Sedro Woolley, both seasoned political figures.

Miloscia is a former state lawmaker who until recently led the Family Policy Institute of Washington in Lynnwood. He has written that he does not trust election officials who say no fraud occurred in the presidential election.

“Everything is about integrity, performance and accountability,” he told the The Daily Herald editorial board, adding that benchmarks should be set and a report card prepared following each election showing how each of the 39 counties performed.

He has said that he would conduct more audits of the system, saying at the forum that “the voters have lost confidence in what we’re doing.”

There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Washington state, and Wyman regularly touted the safety and security of the vote-by-mail system.

Wagoner, who is endorsed by former Secretary of State Sam Reed, serves on the Ways and Means committee and Law and Justice committee in the Senate. Inslee’s decision to appoint a Democrat rather than Republican to succeed Wyman was the impetus for him to get into race, he said.

“It was a slight of voters” who elected a Republican for the job, he told the editorial board.

If he wins, he vowed to provide greater transparency of the conduct of elections to bolster public confidence. He also wants to explore initiatives with the archives and library.

Tamborine Borrelli of Gig Harbor, an “America First” candidate, leads the Washington Election Integrity Coalition United, which has sued several counties, including Snohomish County, alleging ballot manipulation and fraud in the 2020 election.

A similar suit against the state was tossed out. In May, the state Supreme Court sanctioned the group and its lawyer for making legally meritless claims alleging widespread voter fraud.

On her campaign web site, she calls for replacing the state’s “insecure mail-in voting process with convenient in-person voting requiring valid I.D”

Rounding out the field are Republican Bob Hagglund of Granite Falls; Kurtis Engle of Lacey who is running on the Union party; and Democrat Marquez Tiggs of Seattle.

Hobbs leads in fund-raising with $404,000 followed by Anderson, with nearly $170,000, Miloscia with $59,000, Borrelli at $48,000, Wagoner at $38,000 and Hagglund with $11,000.

Ballots are due Aug. 2. They can be deposited in a designated drop box or returned by mail postage-free.

Herald writer Jerry Cornfield contributed to this report

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