State Watch

Washington governor picks Dem to replace Biden-appointed GOP secretary of state

Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has appointed a Democrat to serve as Washington’s next secretary of state after the Republican incumbent, Kim Wyman, resigned to take a top elections security job in the Biden administration.

Inslee said Wednesday that he will tap state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D) to take over when Wyman leaves to join the administration next week. Hobbs, 51, would be the first person of Asian descent to hold the office — and the first Democrat to hold the office since 1965.

“Steve is a dedicated public servant,” Inslee said in a statement announcing his pick. “Steve has demonstrated political independence. That is crucial during this time of political polarization and distrust. He is a moderate who has worked effectively with people of all political perspectives. He is not afraid to challenge both Democrats and Republicans.”

Inslee’s move will anger state Republicans, who have held the secretary of state’s office for 15 consecutive elections. In that time, five Republicans have held the position, winning consistently even as Washington has become a solidly blue state in both state and federal elections.

Republicans had urged Inslee to pick from a handful of GOP legislators to replace Wyman, who plans to leave the office for a position in the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). 

Wyman, who called out former President Donald Trump’s lies and disinformation about the 2020 election results and who backs mail-in voting, will become the agency’s senior election security lead.

“Kim’s reputation is second to none and I am personally thrilled to have her lead CISA’s election security efforts,” CISA director Jen Easterly said in a statement in announcing her appointment. “Kim’s deep knowledge of state and county government will strengthen our partnerships with state and local officials and enable us to expand our outreach to smaller election jurisdictions and private sector partners.”

Wyman took her first political office in 2001, when she was appointed to replace Thurston County Auditor Sam Reed, who had resigned to become secretary of state. She won elections in the increasingly Democratic county three times, before succeeding Reed in the state’s top job.

Tags Donald Trump Jay Inslee Washington

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