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.
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:
|Tamborine M. Borrelli||$50,307.77||$43,741.54|
|Keith L. Wagoner||$48,448.77||$33,960.28|
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.