(The Center Square) – Democratic Secretary of State Steve Hobbs defeated nonpartisan Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson to retain his office, the first time a member of his party has been elected as Washington state’s chief elections officer in six decades.
Hobbs was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to assume the role when Kim Wyman, a Republican, left office in November 2021 to take a key election-security position in President Joe Biden’s administration. He prevailed in a close race.
Hobbs garnered 49.84% (1,346,093) of the vote to Anderson’s 46.05% (1,243,627), according to Tuesday morning preliminary figures from the Secretary of State’s Office.
Write-ins accounted for 4.11% (111,114) of the vote, which is greater than the 3.79% (102,466) difference between Hobbs and Anderson.
Brad Klippert, a Republican state representative from Kennewick, ran a write-in campaign for the office after Republicans were shut out of the state’s top two primary in August.
That raises the question: Did Klippert, who had the endorsement of the Washington State Republican Party, pull in enough votes in a tight race to swing the election to Hobbs?
Even before the Nov. 8 general election, there were indications that was a possibility.
An October poll by the Northwest Progressive Institute showed a close race between Hobbs and Anderson until respondents were asked to factor in Klippert as a candidate, at which point Hobbs became the clear winner in a three-way contest.
Independent journalist Brandi Kruse broached the subject on social media two days after the election.
“Of note, the gap between @nonpartisansos and @electhobbs is fewer votes (61,322) than the number of write-ins (75,063),” she tweeted. “Meaning it is very possible Republicans played right into Dems hands to give them the win.”
The Center Square reached out to the Klippert campaign to ask if he essentially threw the election to Hobbs, who will now serve out the remaining two years of Wyman’s original four-year term.
The campaign responded by emailing a Friday press release.
“The voters of our wonderful state always deserve the opportunity to vote for a conservative Republican candidate, and it was my duty and obligation to answer the call to be that candidate,” Klippert said in the press release.
He continued, “I’m proud to have offered the voters a choice to vote for someone who believes in better election processes and more transparent elections in Washington, and to have the opportunity to discuss some of the major problems embedded in our state’s election laws.
“I’m extremely grateful to every grassroots volunteer who worked so hard to support and promote my campaign. I’m honored by the support and encouragement that I received throughout the campaign.”
When asked about getting a direct quote from Klippert, campaign manager Nancy Churchill responded via email, “Rep. Klippert is not planning on an additional statement.”
Election results will be certified by Dec. 8.