Gov. Jay Inslee on Nov. 10 named state Sen. Steve Hobbs, a moderate Democrat from Lake Stevens, as the new secretary of state, succeeding Kim Wyman, a Republican who is resigning for a job in the Biden administration.
Hobbs will replace Wyman on Nov. 22 when she leaves office to begin work as the election security lead for the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
Hobbs, a state senator since 2007, is Asian-American and will be the first person of color to serve as Washington’s secretary of state. Inslee highlighted Hobbs’ experience as a lieutenant colonel in the Washington National Guard.
“Steve is a dedicated public servant,” Inslee said in a statement. “He has a strong national security perspective from his work in the Army and National Guard. His experience in cyber-security will be crucial as election systems around the country continue to face threats.”
“Importantly, Steve has demonstrated political independence. That is crucial during this time of political polarization and distrust,” Inslee said. “He is a moderate who has worked effectively with people of all political perspectives. He is not afraid to challenge both Democrats and Republicans. Steve has worked to protect democracy and will continue that noble pursuit as Secretary of State.”
Hobbs will serve through next year’s general election. At that time a special election will be held and the winner will complete the final two years of Wyman’s term.
He grew up in Snohomish County and represents the 44th Legislative District, which includes Lake Stevens, Mill Creek and Snohomish.
He was first elected to the state Senate in 2006 and has been re-elected three times. He’s also run unsuccessfully for the Snohomish County Council, the U.S. House of Representatives and, in 2020, briefly campaigned for lieutenant governor.
He withdrew from that statewide race because of National Guard duties. At the time, he oversaw a special task force that supported the operation of food banks, including distribution of food, in the western portion of the state in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Hobbs has served more than 32 years in the U.S. Army, having enlisted as a private at age 17.
Hobbs has both a master’s degree in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington. He recently completed Defense Information School through the U.S. Department of Defense and has had additional training for officers from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
Wyman won re-election to a third term in November. She is the only Republican holding an elected statewide office on the West Coast. State Republican Party leaders wanted Inslee to appoint someone from the GOP as her replacement.
“This is a crass political move by Governor Inslee to help pass his radical liberal agenda by removing an obstacle from the state Senate,” said Washington State Republican Party Chairman Caleb Heimlich in a statement Wednesday.
Wyman praised Hobbs’s selection.
“Senator Hobbs is a proven leader and dedicated public servant. As a lieutenant colonel in the Washington Army National Guard, I am confident Steve will bring that same commitment to service and integrity to the Office of the Secretary of State,” she said in a statement issued through Inslee’s office.
Precinct officers of the 44th District will nominate three people to replace Hobbs. The Snohomish County Council will choose one who will serve until the November 2022 election.