The announcement is not a surprise as Nickels had said he was considering running to replace the retiring Sam Reed as the state’s top elections official. Nickels says he would be an advocate on transparency for money in politics.
Nickels was defeated for re-election as mayor in 2009. He said in an interview that “being turned out of office is a very humbling experience, so I wanted to think through it carefully.” He said despite the loss, his reputation “has become one of a guy who got things done,” in the years since Mayor Mike McGinn took over.
He jumps into a crowded field that also includes state Sen. Jim Kastama of Puyallup, former Sen. Kathleen Drew of Olympia and Rep. Zack Hudgins of Tukwila, all Democrats, and Republican Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman.
Nickels says though he’s “not a nuts-and-bolts, mechanics-of-conducting-elections guy” and needs to learn about the problems county auditors are facing, he would continue the tradition of Reed and predecessors in managing elections in nonpartisan fashion.
He has engaged political consultant Christian Sinderman. Here’s Nickels’s press release:
Former Seattle Mayor and County Council Member Greg Nickels Will Run for Secretary of State
Protecting the integrity of our elections—from stronger disclosure laws to ballot security—will be focus of longtime local leader
SEATTLE— Former Seattle Mayor and King County Councilmember Greg Nickels, a Democrat, will run for Secretary of State. Nickels entry ends weeks of speculation and resets the fields in the race to replace retiring incumbent Sam Reed.
Nickels will make election transparency, campaign finance disclosure and the integrity of the initiative process the focus of his campaign and platform if elected. He points to recent U.S. Supreme Court and Appeals Court decisions and the recent influx of big money initiative campaigns as critical issues for the next Secretary of State.
“I am passionate about our democracy, but we can’t take it for granted. The rules of politics continue to change in favor wealthy special interests— at our expense,” said Nickels. “The Citizens United ruling allows for unregulated campaign contributions. The 9th Circuit recently overturned our state prohibitions on late, unlimited spending. Over the past few years individuals and corporations have dumped millions to buy laws in our initiative campaigns.”
“We need a Secretary of State not only working with counties to improve election oversight and participation, but a strong voice for transparency on how campaigns are financed, and keeping the voice of citizens in the initiative process,” said Nickels.
During his 14 years as a King County Councilmember, Nickels sponsored the original King County Video Voters guide and helped lead efforts in King County to modernize and improve ballot security. Nickels has pledged to be a partner with local elections officials to protect and improve the integrity of our vote by mail elections through improved technology, stronger security and other best practices. A seasoned elected official and advocate for jobs and small business, Nickels will highlight the little known role of the Secretary of State as a booster for Washington businesses and entrepreneurs.
“When it comes to creating jobs, we must leverage every resource at our disposal,” said Nickels. “That includes the defined role of the Secretary of State as a resource for new businesses, a recruiter to bring jobs into our state, and open markets for Washington goods. It’s an underutilized part of the job that I look forward to embracing.”
Nickels will campaign full time for the post, traveling to all parts of the state to discuss election integrity, initiative reform, and job growth over the course of the campaign.
“I look forward to meeting folks across the state who share my belief that we all deserve an open, transparent electoral process—from who funds the campaign to insuring every vote is counted,” said Nickels. “These are nonpartisan, common sense goals that must be the top priority of our next Secretary of State.”
Greg Nickels, his wife Sharon and their two dogs live in West Seattle. They are the parents of two grown children, and look forward to taking a break from the campaign for their daughter’s wedding this summer.