Vacancy gives Inslee pick of Washington’s next secretary of state

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Washington state Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced Tuesday she is resigning her position to join the Biden administration.

That means Gov. Jay Inslee will be able to fill by appointment the one state-wide elected office currently occupied by a Republican, in a role charged with overseeing next year’s midterm elections.

“Sec. of State Kim Wyman has remained independent in the face of partisan challenges and has always done what was best for the strength of our democracy,” Inslee wrote on Twitter, after Wyman made it official that she was resigning her office effective Nov. 19 to serve as an election security advisor for the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Many Washington state Republicans were not happy about Wyman’s career choice.

“It is disappointing for the people of Washington state for voted for her three times,” GOP state chair Caleb Heimlich said on FOX 13 News.

The GOP chair pointed out that Washingtonians have a long history of electing Republicans as secretary of state. The last time that a Democrat held the office was 1964.

“I believe the governor should honor the wishes of the voters and select a Republican,” Heimlich said. “I doubt he’s going to do that, but I wish he would, because I think that would show a strong message that he cares about the integrity of our elections. And so far, the voters have trusted Republicans to preserve those elections.”

Wyman was elected to three terms as Secretary of State of Washington and not scheduled to leave office until 2025. She won reelection in 2020 with 53.6 percent of the vote.

Though a Republican, Wyman clashed with the more populist wing of the party. She opposed a Republican-led review of Maricopa County, Arizona's 2020 election, saying, “I can’t get to calling this an audit, or even a recount, because you’re not doing it with any kind of established ground rules or policies or procedures. It’s an exercise at best. It’s political theater at worst.”

In her announcement, Wyman referenced foreign attempts at meddling in her state's elections.

“When I began working in elections 28 years ago, I resolved to work toward a system where every eligible person in our state had the opportunity to register, vote, and have their ballot counted fairly and accurately,” Wyman wrote. “In the past six years, my focus expanded to ensure our elections remained safe from foreign adversaries.”

Wyman also celebrated some of her achievements in office.

“During my tenure as a state and county elections administrator, Washington expanded vote-by-mail elections statewide, installed nearly 500 ballot drop boxes, implemented same-day and automatic voter registration, enabled 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, and more,” she wrote.

The vote-by-mail elections are a sticking point for many Washington Republicans.

State Rep. Brad Klippert, a Republican from Kennewick, introduced a bill in the legislature this year to do away with default by-mail voting and bring back polling places on what he called the “reasonable suspicion” of widespread fraud.

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