Who will WA Secretary of State Steve Hobbs face in November?

The first ballot drop shows an almost three-way tie for second place between Anderson, Hagglund, and Sen. Wagoner.  

Portraits of Mark Miloscia, Steve Hobbs, and Julie Anderson

From left, Washington Secretary of State candidates Mark Miloscia, incumbent Steve Hobbs and Julie Anderson. (Courtesy of the candidates)

Steve Hobbs and Julie Anderson were leading in Tuesday night’s initial election returns for Washington secretary of state, giving Hobbs a shot at being the first Democrat in generations to win election to the statewide office.

Hobbs led with 41% of the vote Tuesday evening, followed by Pierce County Auditor Anderson with 13%, and Republicans Bob Hagglund and State Sen. Keith Wagoner with just over 12% each.

Hobbs, a lieutenant colonel in the Washington State National Guard and a former state senator from Snohomish County, was appointed last autumn to fill Kim Wyman’s position after the thrice-elected Republican departed for an election-security job in the Biden administration.

The secretary of state maintains the state archives, registers corporations and nonprofits and oversees Washington’s vote-by-mail system, a critical task as foreign actors and people claiming election fraud assail the institution. Voters have elected Republicans to the job ever since 1964, and Wyman – who won her last election in 2020 – and her predecessors helped institute mail balloting.

Many primary votes remain to be counted in the coming days to determine which two candidates will advance to the November general election. The winner of that election will complete the remainder of Wyman’s term, with the office back up for election in 2024.

It’s a rare special election for a statewide elected position, and Hobbs drew a slew of challengers, including Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson, who is running as an independent and oversees elections in the state’s second-biggest county.

A trio of conservatives have meanwhile run active campaigns: Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro Woolley; former Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way; and Tamborine Borrelli, a former Bernie Sanders supporter now running as an America First candidate who has alleged election fraud in the state.

Hobbs and Anderson led by far in the fundraising race, with Hobbs having $420,000 available and Anderson raising $179,000.

Much of the race has revolved around election security. Hobbs, who doesn’t have previous experience administering elections, has vowed to fight mis- and disinformation on elections and touted his military experience as crucial for the office.

Anderson has campaigned on her long experience administering elections – which are run by county auditors – and wants to boost trust and transparency in the voting system. To that end, she has called for performing more of what are known as risk-limiting audits.

Trust in elections took a dent among some since 2020, when former President Donald Trump – and in Washington, Republican candidate for governor Loren Culp – spun tales of fraud and filed legal challenges here and elsewhere that were ultimately dismissed or withdrawn for lack of evidence.

The conservative candidates have vowed to among other things investigate potential fraud by establishing special units.

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