Senator becomes first GOP candidate for secretary of state

Sen. Keith Wagoner will challenge Democrat Steve Hobbs, who was appointed to the statewide post in November

Keith Wagoner

Keith Wagoner

Republican state Sen. Keith Wagoner of Sedro-Woolley said Tuesday that he plans to challenge newly appointed Secretary of State Steve Hobbs in next year’s election.

“I don’t feel like I am running against anybody. I am running for the office,” Wagoner told The Daily Herald. “I think I can do some good if I get there.”

Hobbs, a Democrat from Lake Stevens, was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to replace Kim Wyman, a Republican, who resigned to take a job in the Biden administration. Hobbs, who had been a state senator since 2007, began work Nov. 22.

Hobbs’ appointment lasts through next year’s general election. He has said he will run for a full four-year term. He is the first Democrat in the job since 1965.

Wagoner said voters have long shown a preference for a Republican secretary of state and Inslee failed to recognize that by naming Hobbs.

“I am looking to provide balance and accountability. I don’t think you get that when one one party runs everything,” Wagoner said.

Wagoner was appointed to his Senate seat in January 2018. Later that year he won a four-year term representing the 39th Legislative District which encompasses swaths of rural Snohomish and Skagit counties and a sliver of King County. The portion of the district in Snohomish County includes the cities of Arlington, Monroe, Sultan, Gold Bar and Index.

In the Senate, Wagoner serves on the Ways and Means and the Law and Justice committees. He is the ranking Republican on the Behavioral Health subcommittee.

Wagoner, a retired U.S. Navy commander, was mayor of Sedro-Woolley prior to entering the Legislature. He also served five years on the City Council.

He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1984 with a degree in physical oceanography, according to his official biography. He also holds a master’s degree in global leadership from the University of San Diego.

Wagoner retired in 2007 after 23 years as a naval officer piloting helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. He and his wife have three children.


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