Washington’s secretary of state leaves big shoes to fill | Roegner

Secretary of State Kim Wyman recently announced she will leave her state job to go to work for President Joe Biden’s administration as senior elections security lead for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Her last day as Washington’s secretary of state will be Nov. 19.

Prior to serving as secretary of state, Wyman served as Thurston County Auditor from 2001-2013. Wyman is familiar with her new agency because she worked with them when Russia was unable to find weak spots in Washington’s system in 2016.

Not only has she been the only statewide Republican elected leader in Washington state, but she is part of a line of Republicans that goes back to 1965, when moderate Republicans helped implement mail voting. Wyman is also trusted by Democrats for her commitment to fairness and integrity in elections. In this state, she wouldn’t continue to be reelected without crossover votes from Democrats. Washington has a national reputation for its success with mail-in voting. Wyman is part of the reason why that is true. She has pushed back against her own party leadership, including former President Donald Trump and his supporters,on mail-in voting and has spoken out against election audits like the one in Arizona.

Wyman also rejected the Republican candidate for governor, Loren Culp, who filed a legal challenge alleging fraud, but later dropped his lawsuit. Wyman is a star for what she has done, and President Biden was smart to hire her. She was first elected secretary of state in 2012 and she was reelected in 2016 and 2020. I had the pleasure of working with her and she is second to none for her knowledge.

Not surprisingly, Republicans want another Republican to replace Wyman. Also not surprisingly, Democrats want to seize that last Republican seat that has eluded them.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Nov. 10 that Democratic State Sen. Steve Hobbs will replace her. Hobbs, who previously ran for lieutenant governor, will serve through November of next year, and whoever is elected in a statewide election would then fill out Wyman’s term through 2024.

In a news release, Inslee said of Hobbs: “Steve is a dedicated public servant. 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.”

The appointment is effective Nov. 22.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.