Pierce County auditor hopes to be Washington’s first nonpartisan secretary of state

Dec 15, 2021, 11:57 AM | Updated: Dec 16, 2021, 9:28 am
Secretary of state race, Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson...
Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson. (Campaign photo)
(Campaign photo)

The 2022 race for Washington’s secretary of state has been framed — up until now — as a showdown between Democrats and Republicans. But with Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson entering the race as a nonpartisan candidate, voters will also have the choice of someone who belongs to neither party.

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

Democrat Steve 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. Under state law, Hobbs will operate in the role until an election can take place in 2022, where he appears likely to run to keep the seat against Republican Keith Wagoner.

Up until Wyman’s departure, Washington’s secretary of state was the only elected statewide office held by a Republican, with the party having held onto the position for over half a century.

For Anderson, the hope is take the role in a more nonpartisan direction, “to give Washington residents the chance to elect an experienced elections administrator who is not beholden to any political party.”

“Elections might be partisan, but those who administer them shouldn’t be,” Anderson said in a release announcing her candidacy. “Our elections and those who run them are under pressure and scrutiny across the nation. Washington state is no exception.”

“Voters who are alarmed by our growing partisan political divide will appreciate my nonpartisan track record of safeguarding elections from interference, protecting voting rights, and promoting unparalleled transparency,” she added.

In addition to her current role as Pierce County auditor, Anderson served as the president of the Washington State Association of County Auditors, where she “unified and supported all 39 Republican, Democratic, and nonpartisan county auditors and directors of elections during the tumultuous 2020 election cycle.”

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

She has long touted the importance of maintaining the political independence for those serving as election officials in Washington. In a June 2021 op-ed published in the Tacoma News Tribune, Anderson described how she believes “politics should have no place in this critical nonpartisan work,” as part of a larger commentary on how auditors should be appointed, rather than elected.

Both Wagoner and Hobbs have also made a point to paint their respective campaigns in a more centrist light, with the latter describing himself as a “radical moderate.”

If elected, Anderson’s campaign says she should be “the first nonpartisan elected Secretary of State in the United States in at least 100 years.” She would also be the first Washington secretary of state belonging to neither the Democratic nor Republican Party since Populist Will Jenkins was elected in 1896. Washington has never had a nonpartisan secretary of state.

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Pierce County auditor hopes to be Washington’s first nonpartisan secretary of state