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Western Washington Republican lawmaker running for secretary of state

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(The Center Square) – State Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, announced on Monday that he is running to be Washington’s next secretary of state.

“The Secretary of State is the second most important elected position in Washington, and we simply cannot have one party controlling the entire process from registrations to election legislation, to counting the ballots,” Fortunato said in a news release announcing his candidacy.

In addition to controlling the governorship, Democrats control the Washington State Legislature by a 58-40 margin in the House of Representatives and a 29-20 margin in the Senate.

During his time in the Legislature, Fortunato sponsored legislation focusing on the voter registration process. In the 2023 session, he sponsored Senate Bill 5140 to stress-test the state’s elections system for vulnerabilities. In the 2020 session, he sponsored Senate Bill 6412 to make Washington’s elections more secure. Neither bill passed the Legislature.

“While on the Election Administration and Certification Board I’ve been told how secure our registration process is. When I laid out problematic scenarios, I was assured that multiple or duplicate registrations would be caught,” Fortunato said. “We hire hackers to test electronic security, but not the registration process. The fact is that motor voter laws and documentation loopholes are serious vulnerabilities allowing non-citizens to register and duplicate registrations. To ensure the electorate that the entire process is secure, I say let’s test it.”

Fortunato ran for re-election to the state Senate and won in the general election in November 2022. His current term ends in January 2027.

Fortunato was elected in 2016 to the state House of Representatives. However, he was appointed to the Senate to fill the vacancy left by Pam Roach before being sworn in, so he did not serve in the House at that time.

Fortunato previously served in the House from 1998 to 2000.

Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, a Democrat, was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to assume the role of former Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, who left office in November 2021 to take a key election-security position in President Joe Biden’s administration.

In November 2022, Hobbs defeated nonpartisan candidate Julie Anderson in a special election to fill the final two years of Wyman’s four-year elected term.

Hobbs is the first Democrat to win the office since 1960.

Washington’s primary election is Aug. 6. The general election is Nov. 5.

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