A closer look at the secretary of state race | Roegner

The candidates for Washington’s secretary of state are an interesting batch.

Julie Anderson, who was elected Pierce County’s nonpartisan auditor in 2009, is running against incumbent Steve Hobbs (D) as a nonpartisan candidate.

Hobbs is a Lake Stevens Democrat and has noted that he is the first person of color to serve as secretary of state (his mother is Japanese). He was appointed to the position by Gov. Jay Inslee in 2021 after Republican Kim Wyman left the office to work in the Biden Administration. There was pressure to replace Wyman with another Republican because a Republican has held the job in Washington since 1965.

In fact, several Republicans did run for the job in the August primary election. Anderson, as a nonpartisan candidate, garnered almost 13 percent of the vote to finish second — ahead of Republican candidates Keith Wagoner (12.16 percent), Bob Hagglund (12.05 percent) and Mark Miloscia (10.02 percent). Hobbs received almost 40 percent of the primary vote.

Hobbs has limited experience as a secretary of state. But he and Anderson are open to moving up the primary to an earlier date, and may eventually agree to ranked choice voting, in which each voter completes their ballot with their first, second, third choices. Pierce County has experimented with ranked choice voting, and there was a time when a perennial candidate upset the field. But my prediction is that ranked choice voting will get more support.

Hobbs is a moderate Democrat who frequently voted against high-profile party priorities, which led to some speculation that the reason Inslee selected him was to vacate his Senate position. Anderson, in her role as Pierce County’s auditor, has been through the training and knows how to run an election. Anderson is the best candidate to carry on the department’s mission. However, Hobbs is in a good position to win and serve the remaining two years of Wyman’s term.

Only the history books remember Vic Myers, the last Democrat elected as secretary of state. A Depression-era jazz band leader, Myers ran for mayor as a stunt and ended up having a long career in Washington politics. After previously serving five terms as lieutenant governor, he was elected as secretary of state in 1956. It has been nearly 60 years since Myers was defeated in his quest for a third term.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.