Washington voters interested in watching a candidate debate between this year’s two finalists for Secretary of State this month will have at least two more opportunities to watch Democratic incumbent Steve Hobbs and challenger Julie Anderson square off again before the deadline to return ballots arrives.
The first of these will be on Sunday, October 23rd, when Hobbs and Anderson (unaffiliated with a party) appear at Gonzaga University in Spokane for a candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters and The Spokesman-Review. Tickets are available to the general public for this event.
The second will be on Wednesday, October 26th, when the Seattle Channel is set to host a debate between Hobbs and Anderson, who garnered the first and second most votes in the August Top Two election, respectively.
Anderson, the Pierce County Auditor, edged out all of the Republican candidates running this year in the Top Two, so they were eliminated from contention.
However, Republican State Representative Brad Klippert (who himself was eliminated in the Top Two election in an unsuccessful campaign to oust Dan Newhouse) has decided to run a write-in campaign for the office as a Republican. The Washington State Republican Party has endorsed his bid.
The Washington State Debate Coalition, meanwhile, has pulled the plug on its own planned Secretary of State candidate debate in Tacoma because the timeslot chosen by the coalition did not work for Secretary Hobbs.
The coalition last month publicly announced its intention to hold a debate on October 18th at 1 PM at the University of Puget Sound, hoping that Hobbs would eventually be able to make the date work, but Hobbs already had a prior commitment and made it clear to the coalition he would be honoring it.
Efforts to reschedule to another date and time were not successful.
“The WSDC is a firm believer in holding a widely-broadcast exchange between the top two candidates in as many consequential races as we can so voters can compare and contrast their positions on important topics. Holding the event with only one candidate present does not provide that opportunity,” noted Alicia Crank, executive director of Seattle CityClub and the Debate Coalition.
Fortunately, as mentioned above, the planning for two other debates this month worked out, and both Secretary of State candidates are expected to be present together on each side of the state for a vigorous discussion of the issues.
These upcoming events will not be their first debates, as Hobbs and Anderson made three joint appearances before the Top Two election plus one more since certification, hosted by the Association of Washington Business.
Ordinarily, the position of Secretary of State is elected in presidential years, but there is a special election for the office this year because Hobbs’ predecessor Kim Wyman resigned a year ago to take a job in the Biden administration, working for Jen Easterly at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Wyman has remained in the news as CISA’s Senior Election Security Lead.
Hobbs was subsequently appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to take over for Wyman. He is the first Democratic Secretary of State in Washington in more than half a century, and the first Asian American / Pacific Islander to serve in the post.
Whoever wins will serve out the rest of the unexpired term that Wyman was elected to by voters in November of 2020. Another regular election for the office will be held in 2024 along with the state’s nine other statewide executive offices.