Washington State's Capitol Campus in Olympia, from the air
An aerial view of Washington State's Capitol Campus in Olympia, with the distinctive Legislative Building in the center (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

This Tues­day, August 2nd, vot­ers in Wash­ing­ton State will win­now an eight-can­di­date field for Sec­re­tary of State down to two final­ists. It’s the first time in eons that Ever­green State vot­ers have been tasked with fill­ing a vacan­cy in the state’s exec­u­tive depart­ment in a midterm elec­tion cycle. Ordi­nar­i­ly, statewide exec­u­tive posi­tions get vot­ed on in pres­i­den­tial years. But, owing to the res­ig­na­tion of Repub­li­can Kim Wyman last Novem­ber, 2022 is an exception.

Incum­bent Sec­re­tary of State Steve Hobbs, who is run­ning for the remain­der of the unex­pired term, is the first Demo­c­rat to hold the office since the 1950s.

In this Top Two round — the first part of Wash­ing­ton’s two-part gen­er­al elec­tion — Hobbs faces three Repub­li­cans — Kei­th Wag­oner, Mark Milos­cia, and Bob Hag­glu­nd, along with Pierce Coun­ty Audi­tor Julie Ander­son, who is run­ning as an inde­pen­dent, plus a con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist, Tam­borine Bor­rel­li, an unaf­fil­i­at­ed can­di­date named Kur­tis Engle, and one oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date, Mar­quez Tig­gs, who is run­ning with­out mon­ey or par­ty support.

NPI’s pub­lic opin­ion research sug­gests that Hobbs will get through this round. 17% of 1,039 like­ly vot­ers sur­veyed for NPI by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling last month said they would vote for Hobbs if the elec­tion were being held then, while 56% said they were unde­cid­ed. All of Hobbs’ oppo­nents polled in the sin­gle digits.

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

At the time that sur­vey was con­duct­ed, the con­test was rather qui­et, with scant media cov­er­age and not much online dis­cus­sion. For­tu­nate­ly, that has now changed. In the last few weeks, many out­lets have pri­or­i­tized cov­er­ing this race, which has result­ed in a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of arti­cles and edi­to­ri­als being pub­lished about the can­di­dates. Addi­tion­al­ly, Hobbs and Ander­son have gone up on the air with their own ads intro­duc­ing them­selves to voters.

Here’s the ad Hobbs is running:

And here’s the ad Ander­son is running:

None of the Repub­li­can can­di­dates appear to have video ads, not even on cable or stream­ing ser­vices. That’s because they have lagged in fundrais­ing behind Hobbs and Ander­son. They sim­ply don’t have the resources to reach voters.

State Sen­a­tor Kei­th Wag­oner, in par­tic­u­lar, has done poorly.

Despite hav­ing been in the race since last Novem­ber and hav­ing the endorse­ment of Ralph Munro, a for­mer Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State, he has been leapfrogged in fundrais­ing by Mark Milos­cia, who only declared his can­di­da­cy dur­ing Fil­ing Week. Here’s the can­di­dates’ con­tri­bu­tions and expen­di­tures through July 26th:

With respect to earned media, last month, Sec­re­tary Hobbs was men­tioned in the news few­er than a hun­dred times (twen­ty-six of which were on-air, accord­ing to an analy­sis by NPI of tele­vi­sion, radio, and online clips. But this month, Sec­re­tary Hobbs has over three hun­dred men­tions, includ­ing eighty-five tele­vi­sion and radio men­tions. Many of those clips also dis­cuss his chal­lengers’ candidacies.

In addi­tion to ben­e­fit­ing from increased media cov­er­age, the can­di­dates have recent­ly been afford­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty to par­tic­i­pate in sev­er­al forums, includ­ing one host­ed by the League of Women Vot­ers of Wash­ing­ton. A record­ing of that forum (from July 14th) is avail­able to watch on TVW’s web­site.

Most of the news­pa­pers in the state that still endorse can­di­dates have urged vot­ers to retain Hobbs. The Seat­tle Times, The Stranger, and The Her­ald of Everett all urged vot­ers to pick Hobbs, while The News Tri­bune (Ander­son­’s home­town paper) endorsed Ander­son along with Hobbs.

All the evi­dence sug­gests that Sec­re­tary Hobbs is in a good posi­tion to move on to the gen­er­al elec­tion. But who will his oppo­nent be? Will it be Pierce Coun­ty Audi­tor Julie Ander­son? State Sen­a­tor Kei­th Wag­oner? For­mer Sen­a­tor Mark Milos­cia? Or some­one else? We won’t have an idea until the ini­tial results roll in.

Vot­ing in the August 2022 Top Two elec­tion ends at 8 PM on the 2nd. Be sure to get your bal­lot to a drop box or post office before the dead­line if you’re a voter.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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