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.