Democrat Kathleen Drew has conceded the race, making Republican Kim Wyman the undisputed winner of the Washington secretary of state race and the lone Republican running statewide to win in the Evergreen State this fall.
“I always thought this race was about experience. I think that played a big role in it,” Wyman told me in a telephone interview. “You look at the rest of the ticket and I’m the only statewide Republican on the West Coast I found out today. There was clearly a blue wave that rolled over Washington.’’
Drew conceded the race in the last hour, and Wyman said Drew just called her to congratulate her on the 41,340-vote victory (as of this afternoon).
Drew’s full statement is here:
“Today, I called Kim Wyman to congratulate her on a hard fought victory and to concede the race. I know that she will carry forward Washington’s tradition of fair and impartial elections, and I am optimistic that she will work on measures to remove barriers and increase voter participation. I talked to her about the importance of fully funding the primary voters’ pamphlet at the state level, which had been a cornerstone of my campaign. I wish her all the best.“I couldn’t have come as far as we did without the incredible staff and volunteers who worked around-the-clock on my behalf, and my husband, Steve, and son, Phil, who made this a family affair and kept me smiling along the way. I am extremely proud of the campaign that we ran and the ideas that we championed like Election Day voter registration and pre-registering 16- and 17-year-olds to vote. Increasing voter participation and encouraging young people to vote is my passion and I ask all of you to work with your legislators to move these ideas forward. Thank you for the honor of participating in this process.“I have dedicated my career to serving our community, and today I look forward to the next chapter.”
Both candidates touted their experience in a field that originally held seven candidates - with Wyman emphasizing her work in elections and Drew noting she was the legislative author of the Ethics in Public Service Act and also did work for Gov. Chris Gregoire revamping state agencies.
Debbie Koepp, first vice chair of the Thurston County GOP, put out a statement saying the party is “excited to see our very own Thurston County Auditor, Kim Wyman, serve as our new Secretary of State. Kim brings a wealth of knowledge to the office and there’s no doubt her reputation of honesty and integrity has earned her the respect and confidence of Washington state voters.”
And Wyman said she was proud that both campaigns avoid going negative – with each candidate talking about improvements she would make to the office.
The vote turns out to be historic – coming 100 years after the state elected its first Republican woman in a statewide election, Wyman said.
Her predecessor was state schools chief Josephine Corliss Preston, who first won in 1912 and served four terms through the 1928 election, but whose feat was not equalled until today.
Wyman also becomes the latest in a long run of Republicans to win the position, which last was held by a Democrat, Victor Meyers, who lost to Lud Kramer in 1964. After Kramer came Bruce Chapman, Ralph Munro and Sam Reed, all Republicans.
Like Reed, Wyman has served as Thurston County auditor, and she said she intends to follow his example by serving as auditor until she is sworn in to the new state position in January.
That leaves about two years on her auditor’s term and is likely to trigger a scramble for candidates who want to be appointed by the Thurston County commissioners. The Thurston County Republican Party first would select three names to give to the commissioners to consider, and Wyman said she expects her phone to start ringing next week from people who want to go get coffee and talk about the office.
The secretary of state-elect also expects to meet with Reed and his staff next week as she begins setting up her transition team. County election results are expected to be certified by Nov. 27 and by state elections officials in early December.