In a perfect world, the position of Washington’s secretary of state would be nonpartisan. That way, it would be harder to accuse the office holder – the state’s highest elections official – of playing party favorites.
But it is a partisan position. So the next best thing would be to elect someone who is not highly partisan and has a record of inspiring confidence in both Republicans and Democrats. Say, someone like Sam Reed – a Republican who has been elected three times in a state that doesn’t elect very many Republicans to statewide office.
But Reed is retiring. If voters want to replace him with someone who embraces his brand of nonpartisan professionalism, they should elect the candidate he is endorsing and who is following in his footsteps by first serving as Thurston County auditor: Kim Wyman.
In 2010, Wyman was elected to a fourth term as auditor in Thurston County – which is heavily Democratic. She’s endorsed by the Washington Education Association, the teacher’s union that usually endorses Democrats. But more important, she’s endorsed by more than 50 current and past county auditors across the state – Democrats as well as Republicans. Those officials know she has a record of running efficient, clean elections.
Wyman’s Democratic opponent is Kathleen Drew, a former state legislator from Issaquah who now lives in Olympia. She does not have any experience running an elections office, and her endorsements are all from her own party and the Washington State Labor Council.
Drew – who authored the state’s Ethics in Public Service law – likely would be fine if she were elected. But if a statewide election were ever as close and controversial as the 2004 governor’s race, having a secretary of state more in Reed’s mold would inspire greater voter confidence in the results.
Wyman, who has a master’s degree in public administration and is a certified elections administration, also has an educational edge over Drew, whose résumé lists a bachelor’s degree in political science.
If voting trends in the primary hold, Drew probably is favored to win. Voters should closely compare the qualifications and track records of the two candidates. If they do, they’ll likely follow the advice of Washington’s county auditors and go with the less partisan and better qualified Wyman.