Washington Republicans set sights on reclaiming secretary of state seat in 2022

Dec 7, 2021, 11:28 AM
Keith Wagoner, Secretary of State...
(Office of Keith Wagoner)
(Office of Keith Wagoner)

With Steve Hobbs currently serving as Washington’s first Democratic secretary of state in 56 years, he’ll soon be facing off against at least one Republican challenger during the 2022 election in state Senator Keith Wagoner.

Republican lawmaker to enter Washington secretary of state race

Hobbs was tagged to serve as secretary of state by Gov. Jay Inslee, after incumbent Republican Kim Wyman left for a new role with the Biden administration. Inslee touted Hobbs’ background in cybersecurity with the U.S. military, as well as his experience as a state lawmaker as the primary factors behind the appointment.

Republicans, though, have been critical of Inslee’s choice, particularly given that up until Wyman’s departure, it was the only elected statewide position held by a member of the Republican party.

“(Inslee) had a golden opportunity to show bipartisanship and put a qualified Republican in a seat that voters have wisely put qualified Republicans in for the last 56 years,” Wagoner told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show. “I thought that the governor missed an opportunity.”

Wagoner hopes to “fix that error” by throwing his hat into the ring and running against Hobbs in 2022. The winner of that race will then serve out the remainder of Wyman’s term, which expires in 2024.

Although the secretary of state has a variety of responsibilities, Wagoner says that if he’s elected, “the focus is going to be on an elections, and accountability for certification of that process.”

While a handful of Washington Republicans have held firm to their belief that the 2020 election was fraudulent, Wagoner describes himself as “one of the people who believes we have a very solid structure in our voting system.”

“It’s one of the easiest systems to vote in the nation, and that’s a good thing, because we ought to be encouraging our people to vote — it ought to be a joyful thing,” he said.

Wyman: ‘I don’t think it matters’ if Washington’s Secretary of State is a Republican

Even so, Wagoner also says he wants to “rebuild confidence” in Washington’s electoral system by addressing concerns head on.

“You hear these questions all the time, people that say there’s an anomaly or there was an administrative foible,” he said. “How did that happen? Why did that happen? And they kind of have been hushed in this very polarized environment, that if you say there’s something imperfect about the system, you’re some kind of election denier, or you don’t believe our elections are fair.”

“I think you can question, and should question, the system without saying you don’t have any faith in it,” Wagoner added.

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Washington Republicans set sights on reclaiming secretary of state seat in 2022