First Democrat to serve as Washington Sec. of State in decades swears in as ‘radical moderate’
Steve Hobbs has officially been sworn in as Washington’s Secretary of State. The appointment on behalf of Gov. Jay Inslee follows former Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s departure for a new role with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
In a speech on Monday, Hobbs implicitly addressed state Republican concerns about his appointment: The decision to select a Democrat, often held by conservatives as a counterpoint to Democratic governor administrations, is a political foul by Inslee tantamount to removal of “a political obstacle,” Washington GOP Chair Caleb Heimlich told KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott.
“Luckily for me, the last three secretaries were centrist,” Hobbs said. “I’m also a centrist. Some would say I’m a radical moderate at times. But you have to have that, you have to have the trust of the secretary. That way you have trust in the election system. So that that part will not change.”
Hobbs is now a former state senator, described as moderate, with a track record for clashing with the Inslee administration over climate policy, among other legislation. His appointment marks the first Democratic Secretary of State since Victor Aloysius Meyers held the office between 1957 and 1965.
Hobbs declared Monday that he is aligned with Wyman on election security, outlining his intention to “build on Secretary Wyman’s security operations center with cyber.”
That nod towards his vision for the office was followed with confirmation that he will preserve Wyman’s team.
“I also want to let those 300 employees at the Secretary of State’s office know that I will be listening to you, and really nothing is going to change too much,” he vowed.
He went on to address his lack of experience with elections monitoring, stating, “I know that I don’t come with the institutional knowledge of electioneering. I’m not county auditor.”
Despite that, he mentioned several goals for his administration, including “expanding upon voter outreach, reaching distressed communities of color, and [voter education] to try to get them to vote and register.”