Steve Hobbs versus Julie Anderson
Steve Hobbs versus Julie Anderson

Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sec­re­tary of State Steve Hobbs will remain Wash­ing­ton State’s chief elec­tions offi­cer and cus­to­di­an of records through the remain­der of his pre­de­ces­sor Kim Wyman’s unex­pired term, the lat­est returns show, in what is a remark­able, his­toric break­through for the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party.

With over 2 mil­lion votes now tab­u­lat­ed, Hobbs leads chal­lenger Julie Ander­son by 51,259 votes. Hobbs has led in every count in the gen­er­al elec­tion, pro­pelled by a strong per­for­mance in King Coun­ty as well as sup­port from sev­er­al oth­er swing coun­ties like Sno­homish, What­com, and Thurston.

Ander­son is com­plet­ing her final term as Pierce Coun­ty Audi­tor and decid­ed to chal­lenge Hobbs for the posi­tion late last year after being passed over for the appoint­ment by Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, she’s car­ry­ing Pierce County.

Although she used to be a Demo­c­rat, Ander­son is no longer affil­i­at­ed with a par­ty and ran as an inde­pen­dent. How­ev­er, instead of stat­ing no par­ty pref­er­ence, she declared her­self to be “a non­par­ti­san,” which result­ed in the descrip­tor by her name non­sen­si­cal­ly say­ing “Prefers Non­par­ti­san Par­ty” (there is no such thing).

Ander­son ran on a plat­form of mak­ing the office non­par­ti­san — an idea NPI strong­ly oppos­es — and empha­sized her sup­port for a local options bill cham­pi­oned by Fair­Vote to make it eas­i­er for local gov­ern­ments in Wash­ing­ton to adopt ranked choice vot­ing. (Steve Hobbs is present­ly opposed to RCV.)

Hobbs ran on keep­ing Wash­ing­ton’s elec­tions secure and com­bat­ing threats, includ­ing mis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­in­for­ma­tion. His ideas and plans for the office were cheered by edi­to­r­i­al boards across the state. The Seat­tle Times endorsed him, as did The Columbian of Van­cou­ver, and The Her­ald of Everett. Hobbs also received the endorse­ments of The Stranger and PubliCola.

The Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty made Hobbs’ reelec­tion a pri­or­i­ty, and he spoke at Tues­day evening’s vic­to­ry cel­e­bra­tion at the Belle­vue West­in along with Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray, U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kim Schri­er, U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Suzan Del­Bene, U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Adam Smith, and U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal, each of whom won reelec­tion in their respec­tive fed­er­al races.

Ander­son con­ced­ed to Hobbs this evening, she told The Seat­tle Times.

“We don’t see a path for­ward numer­i­cal­ly, so it’s time to con­cede,” Ander­son said.

“I’m deeply hum­bled to be the first Demo­c­rat elect­ed to this office in near­ly six­ty years, as well as the first per­son of col­or to serve in this role,” said Hobbs.

Ander­son­’s deci­sion to run against a Demo­c­ra­t­ic incum­bent for a par­ti­san office as an unaf­fil­i­at­ed can­di­date iron­i­cal­ly left her elec­toral­ly reliant on fick­le, ultra MAGA Repub­li­can vot­ers who want vote at home abol­ished, cir­cu­late con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries, and believe that the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was not fair­ly conducted.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly for Ander­son, tens of thou­sands of those ultra MAGA vot­ers grav­i­tat­ed to the write-in can­di­da­cy of Repub­li­can Brad Klippert.

There are cur­rent­ly 85,278 write-in votes, most of which are prob­a­bly for Klip­pert. The gap between Hobbs and Ander­son is, as men­tioned, just 51,259 votes.

These results show that the three statewide polls that found Hobbs and Ander­son tied (includ­ing our own) were on the mon­ey. They also show that Klip­pert’s write-in can­di­da­cy was the decid­ing fac­tor, just as our polling sug­gest­ed it could be. Because Hobbs’ base of sup­port was Demo­c­ra­t­ic and inde­pen­dent vot­ers, he did­n’t have to wor­ry about los­ing votes to Klip­pert, where­as Ander­son did.

We’ll nev­er know what would have hap­pened if Ander­son had decid­ed to re-affil­i­ate with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty for her Sec­re­tary of State cam­paign, but we can guess that the elec­toral dynam­ics would have been rather different.

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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