NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Friday, June 3rd, 2022

Steve Hobbs leads crowded field for Secretary of State (WA), with most voters undecided

This sum­mer, Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers will see a spe­cial item on their bal­lots, one which isn’t nor­mal­ly con­test­ed in midterm elections.

That item is the spe­cial elec­tion to deter­mine who should serve out the remain­der of the term that Repub­li­can Kim Wyman was elect­ed to in 2020.

Wyman, who was first elect­ed to the post in 2012, announced last Novem­ber that she was step­ping down to take a job in the Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion with CISA. Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee sub­se­quent­ly appoint­ed Demo­c­ra­t­ic State Sen­a­tor Steve Hobbs (D‑44th Dis­trict) to take Wyman’s place, with her endorse­ment.

Hobbs is now run­ning to keep the posi­tion in Demo­c­ra­t­ic hands.

He faces a total of sev­en chal­lengers in the loom­ing August Top Two elec­tion, most of whom iden­ti­fy as Repub­li­cans, includ­ing a cou­ple of late entrants.

As part of our sea­son­al statewide poll of the Wash­ing­ton State elec­torate this week, we asked respon­dents who they’d vote for among the eight can­di­dates if the spe­cial elec­tion for Sec­re­tary of State were being held today.

While a major­i­ty of vot­ers (56%) said they were unsure, which was unsur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of choic­es in the ques­tion, Hobbs was the clear leader among those who did offer an opin­ion, with 17% say­ing they would vote for him. No oth­er can­di­date received sup­port beyond 6%.

Secretary of State poll finding (June 2022)

Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s poll find­ing for Wash­ing­ton Sec­re­tary of State, June 2022

When we last polled this con­test in Feb­ru­ary, we gave respon­dents three choic­es to select from: Hobbs, Repub­li­can chal­lenger Kei­th Wag­oner (the first promi­nent Repub­li­can to declare his can­di­da­cy fol­low­ing Hobbs’ appoint­ment), and inde­pen­dent Julie Ander­son, the cur­rent Pierce Coun­ty Audi­tor. We found Hobbs with a three point lead over Wag­oner and Ander­son fur­ther back in third place.

At the time, Wag­oner looked like he might be Hobbs’ gen­er­al elec­tion oppo­nent. But his ane­mic fundrais­ing and lack of vis­i­bil­i­ty left us won­der­ing how well posi­tioned he was to actu­al­ly get through the Top Two. So we opt­ed to ask respon­dents about the whole field of can­di­dates, which now includes a cou­ple of hope­fuls who entered the race only recent­ly, like Mark Milos­cia.

As men­tioned, Hobbs received 17%, while every­body else was in the sin­gle digits.

Here’s ques­tion we asked and the respons­es we received:

QUESTION: If the Top Two elec­tion for Wash­ing­ton Sec­re­tary of State was being held today, which can­di­date would you vote for: Demo­c­rat Mar­quez Tig­gs, Demo­c­rat Steve Hobbs, Repub­li­can Kei­th Wag­oner, Repub­li­can Mark Milos­cia, Repub­li­can Bob Hag­glu­nd, Repub­li­can Tam­borine Bor­rel­li, inde­pen­dent Kur­tis Engle, or inde­pen­dent Julie Anderson?

ANSWERS:

  • Not sure: 56%
  • Steve Hobbs (incum­bent): 17%
  • Kei­th Wag­oner: 6%
  • Bob Hag­glu­nd: 5%
  • Tam­borine Bor­rel­li: 5%
  • Julie Ander­son: 5%
  • Mar­quez Tig­gs: 3%
  • Mark Milos­cia: 2%
  • Kur­tis Engle: 1%

Our sur­vey of 1,039 like­ly 2022 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field from Wednes­day, June 1st through yes­ter­day, Thurs­day, June 2nd, 2022.

It uti­lizes a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy, with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines (50%) and text mes­sage answers from cell phone only respon­dents (50%).

The poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

More infor­ma­tion about the survey’s method­ol­o­gy is avail­able here.

Although Bor­rel­li stat­ed that her par­ty pref­er­ence is “Amer­i­ca First (R)” when she filed for office for last week, we described her in our poll as a Repub­li­can because there is no such thing as the “Amer­i­ca First (R) Par­ty” and Bor­rel­li has iden­ti­fied her­self as a Repub­li­can with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion.

Sim­i­lar­ly, we described Kur­tis Engle as an inde­pen­dent, because there is no orga­nized “Union Par­ty.” Con­fus­ing­ly, can­di­dates are allowed to invent any “par­ty” label they want when they file for office. It does­n’t have to be a real entity.

It is note­wor­thy that Wag­oner does not have a sta­tis­ti­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant lead over the rest of the field. He has been in the race for six months and is a state leg­is­la­tor, unlike, say, Hag­glu­nd or Bor­rel­li. Yet respon­dents to our sur­vey did­n’t grav­i­tate to him. Wag­oner sim­ply isn’t stand­ing out among the Repub­li­cans in this race, at least one of whom (Bor­rel­li) is a con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist whose extreme­ly dan­ger­ous and false claims about vot­er fraud have been repu­di­at­ed in the courts.

Pierce Coun­ty Audi­tor Julie Ander­son is in a sim­i­lar­ly bad spot.

Although she has been repeat­ed­ly elect­ed coun­ty­wide in Wash­ing­ton’s sec­ond largest coun­ty and is an expe­ri­enced elec­tions offi­cial run­ning on a plat­form of non­par­ti­san­ship, her can­di­da­cy does­n’t seem to be res­onat­ing with voters.

Late fil­er Mark Milos­cia, mean­while, is in even worse shape. He received the least amount of sup­port of the Repub­li­cans, which isn’t a good sign for him. He last ran statewide ten years ago, when he was a can­di­date for Wash­ing­ton State Audi­tor, fin­ish­ing last among the can­di­dates. Our research indi­cates that he may suf­fer a sim­i­lar fate this sum­mer, unless he can fire up the Trump base, Loren Culp-style.

Con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist Bor­rel­li is already try­ing to do just that.

Sources tell our team at NPI that Bor­rel­li has been appear­ing at local Repub­li­can Par­ty meet­ings to pro­mote her can­di­da­cy at length to dis­grun­tled Trump backers.

Hobbs seems posi­tioned to get through the Top Two as the first place can­di­date. He has the back­ing of the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, he has raised a siz­able amount of mon­ey, and the only oth­er can­di­date run­ning who iden­ti­fies as a Demo­c­rat, Mar­quez Tig­gs, is unlike­ly to siphon off many Demo­c­ra­t­ic votes.

But who will Hobbs’ gen­er­al elec­tion oppo­nent be?

At this junc­ture, we real­ly can’t say.

There sim­ply isn’t anoth­er fron­trun­ner right now.

Two years ago, we had a sim­i­lar dynam­ic for Gov­er­nor. Incum­bent Jay Inslee was the obvi­ous fron­trun­ner from the get-go, but for months, it was­n’t clear who would get through the Top Two as the oth­er final­ist. Even­tu­al­ly, for­mer Repub­lic police chief Loren Culp emerged as the Repub­li­can with the biggest bloc of vot­ers behind him. His 17.41% show­ing in the Top Two was enough for sec­ond place.

Vot­ing in the Top Two elec­tion is set to con­clude in just two months, leav­ing Hobbs’ chal­lengers with only a few weeks to get vot­ers’ atten­tion, make their case, and try to secure enough sup­port to out­flank their fel­low challengers.

We’ll see who sur­vives in August.

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