NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, October 25th, 2021

Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman might be joining the Biden administration

Wash­ing­ton’s lone remain­ing statewide elect­ed Repub­li­can is under con­sid­er­a­tion for a job in the Biden admin­is­tra­tion and could soon be leav­ing the state exec­u­tive depart­ment to serve as DHS’ chief elec­tion secu­ri­ty liai­son to the states, CNN report­ed this evening, cit­ing mul­ti­ple sources “famil­iar with the matter.”

Kim Wyman, fifty-nine, has served as Wash­ing­ton’s Sec­re­tary of State since 2013. She has won three con­sec­u­tive elec­tions for the posi­tion, defeat­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­nents Kath­leen Drew, Tina Pod­lodows­ki (who is now the Chair of the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty) and Gael Tar­leton, NPI’s board dean.

But now it appears that Wyman may be on the verge of step­ping down from that role and step­ping up into a key posi­tion at the fed­er­al level.

“Fed­er­al offi­cials have for weeks been in talks with Wyman, who is Wash­ing­ton state’s sec­re­tary of state, to serve as the elec­tion secu­ri­ty lead for DHS’ Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty and Infra­struc­ture Secu­ri­ty Agency, said the peo­ple, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty,” CNN’s report said. “The sources said Wyman’s selec­tion would not be offi­cial until all admin­is­tra­tive paper­work is cleared with the White House and the admin­is­tra­tion announces her appointment.”

The news instant­ly set Wash­ing­ton State polit­i­cal cir­cles abuzz.

Reporters quick­ly reached out to Wyman’s office for com­ment and were told by Wyman’s staff that they could­n’t con­firm the CNN report. Well, of course not. If the report is what we think it is — a tri­al bal­loon — then con­firm­ing CNN’s report­ing would have defeat­ed the pur­pose of arrang­ing the sto­ry’s pub­li­ca­tion. Impor­tant­ly, Wyman’s office did not deny the rumor. If CNN was total­ly off base, sure­ly Wyman’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions folks would have said so. But they didn’t.

It did not take long for the Asso­ci­at­ed Press to inde­pen­dent­ly con­firm the rumor. The AP char­ac­ter­ized its knowl­edge of the nego­ti­a­tions this way:

She is in talks to serve as the elec­tion secu­ri­ty leader for the Depart­ment of Home­land Security’s Cyber­se­cu­ri­ty and Infra­struc­ture Secu­ri­ty Agency, the agency respon­si­ble for safe­guard­ing U.S. elec­tions, the peo­ple told The Asso­ci­at­ed Press. The peo­ple had knowl­edge of the dis­cus­sions but weren’t autho­rized to speak pub­licly and spoke to AP on con­di­tion of anonymity.

Bring­ing Wyman to DHS could enable the admin­is­tra­tion to make more head­way in its efforts to pre­pare the coun­try for the 2022 midterms. Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy is cur­rent­ly under assault from both for­eign adver­saries as well as domes­tic ene­mies. Wyman could be an ide­al fed­er­al emis­sary to local Repub­li­can elec­tions offi­cials who are under tremen­dous pres­sure to do Trump’s bid­ding and betray the Con­sti­tu­tion they swore or affirmed an oath to uphold.

If Wyman does jump to the fed­er­al lev­el, she’ll have to resign her posi­tion with­in Wash­ing­ton State’s exec­u­tive depart­ment, which means Wash­ing­ton would get a new Sec­re­tary of State for the first time in almost ten years. Vacan­cies in the exec­u­tive depart­ment are filled by guber­na­to­r­i­al appoint­ment in accor­dance with state law, and unlike with leg­isla­tive or coun­ty lev­el vacan­cies, appointees need not be of the same polit­i­cal par­ty as the depart­ing officeholder.

Con­se­quent­ly, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee would have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to appoint a Demo­c­rat to suc­ceed Wyman fol­low­ing her res­ig­na­tion. The office would then be sub­ject to elec­tion in the 2022 midterms, with the win­ner of the spe­cial elec­tion serv­ing out the remain­der of Wyman’s cur­rent term.

The office is respon­si­ble for admin­is­ter­ing elec­tions, cor­po­ra­tions and char­i­ties, the state library and archives, and the apos­tilles and address con­fi­den­tial­i­ty pro­grams. The Sec­re­tary of State is also the cus­to­di­an of the state’s seal.

If the admin­is­tra­tion does indeed offer Wyman a posi­tion and she accepts, we will cov­er the announce­ment here on The Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate. Stay tuned!

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