SEATTLE – The Democratic candidate for secretary of state conceded Saturday, making Kim Wyman Washington’s next top election officer and the only Republican to win a statewide election this year.
In turn, Democrat Kathleen Drew came close to breaking a Republican grip on the secretary of state’s office. Democrats have not produced a secretary of state in nearly 50 years.
Drew and Wyman were running to replace Republican Sam Reed, who is retiring. He was elected in 2000.
The secretary of state oversees state and local elections and registers and licenses private corporations.
Wyman led Drew with 51 percent of the vote Saturday. The race was one of the closest contests in the state.
“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,” said Drew, a former state senator, in a statement.
Wyman is Thurston County’s auditor.
Prior to this election, Republicans led the attorney general and secretary of state’s office.
After two-time attorney general Rob McKenna unsuccessfully ran for governor, Democrat Bob Ferguson beat out Republican Reagan Dunn for the post.
There are ballots left to be counted, but backers of Washington’s charter schools initiative have claimed victory.
With about 90 percent of ballots counted Saturday, Initiative 1240 was passing with 51 percent of the vote – a 41,689-vote gap. There are about 315,000 ballots received statewide that have not been tallied. The initiative was losing in King County, the state’s largest.
Washington voters have rejected the proposal four times since 1995.
If results hold, Washington would become the 42nd state to allow the public independent schools.
Supporters say charter schools would offer new choices for struggling kids and their families. Opponents say the schools have a mixed track record in other states and would take away money from regular public schools.