Gov. Inslee appoints state Senator Steve Hobbs as new secretary of state
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has appointed Democratic State Senator Steve Hobbs to serve as the next secretary of state, replacing Republican Kim Wyman who is taking a job with the Biden administration.
Wyman exits the secretary of state job on Nov. 19. Hobbs will be sworn in on Nov. 22 and will run in a special election next fall to finish out the last two years of Wyman’s term.
Hobbs, 51, will become the first Asian American to hold the position. He currently represents the state's 44th legislative district in Snohomish County, spanning Mill Creek to Marysville.
Hobbs has served in the Washington State Senate since 2006. He’s chair of the transportation committee and is known as a centrist Democrat. He and Inslee have not always seen eye-to-eye on policy. Most recently, they’ve been at odds over Inslee’s clean fuels legislation.
But in a video announcing his choice for secretary of state, Inslee highlighted Hobbs' background as a lieutenant colonel in the Washington National Guard. He has previously been deployed to Iraq and Kosovo.
“We know that Steve’s relationship with the Guard will help in our continuing efforts in cyber security that Kim and her excellent staff has put together to date," Inslee said.
In a statement, Hobbs called the appointment a tremendous honor and responsibility, and thanked Inslee for the appointment.
“There is nothing more sacred than the right to vote," Hobbs said. "I’ve fought for that right overseas and will do everything in my power to protect that right here in Washington. Our state leads the nation in voting access and security and under my watch, I will ensure that we only move to solidify our national standing in this arena.”
Wyman called Hobbs a proven leader and dedicated public servant. In a statement Wednesday, Wyman also noted Hobbs' military service and his record of bipartisan work.
While Inslee and Hobbs have often clashed, state Republicans noted that the governor opted to place a Democrat in the job that has long been occupied by a Republican. As secretary of state, Wyman was the only statewide-elected Republican on the West Coast. Washington has consistently elected a Republican as secretary of state since 1965.
Chair of the Washington State Republican Party Caleb Heimlich commented on the selection, saying that Gov. Inslee was playing politics. Heimlich said via Twitter that if Inslee "truly cared about picking an independent voice, he would have picked an Independent. There are lots of qualified county auditors to choose from. Instead he made the selection based on political benefit to his agenda."