Entire West Coast Officially Has No Republican Statewide Elected Officials

The last Republican holding a statewide elected office on the entire West Coast of the United States has left her post.

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman will be officially replaced Monday as Democrat Steve Hobbs is sworn into office.

Wyman left for a job in the Biden administration as the election security lead for the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. A lifetime Republican official, Wyman has been an outspoken critic of former President Donald Trump amid his baseless claims that the 2020 election was rigged.

Hobbs, who previously served as a state senator, was tapped by Democratic Governor Jay Inslee to fill the role that's been held by a Republican for more than 50 years. Over the past 15 elections, five Republicans have served as secretary of state.

The Washington State Republican Party criticized Inslee for appointing a Democrat to replace Wyman, calling it a "crass political move."

"This selection is a complete disservice to the voters who elected an elections professional and now are getting someone with little to no technical experience," said chairman Caleb Heimlich. "It is a shame that Inslee prioritized partisan politics over voter confidence in our electoral system."

Wyman said she didn't feel guilty over her departure causing the office to switch hands, and said she thinks Hobbs will be a fair, nonpartisan leader.

"I think the party moniker is less important if you're going to step into this role," Wyman told Crosscut. "What's important is inspiring confidence across the political spectrum and not just in your party."

Hobbs's ascension to Secretary of State marks complete Democratic dominance on the coast.

California, Oregon and Washington are all now led by Democrats in statewide elected positions—including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer.

All three states are also served by Democratic senators. Unsurprisingly, each state supported now-President Joe Biden over Donald Trump in last year's election by 25 percentage points or more.

The blue wave on the West Coast has been building since the 1990s, as Democrats running for president have won the area decisively every cycle since Bill Clinton's candidacy. Before that, a Republican won nearly every presidential election there for three decades.

West Coast Has No GOP Statewide Officials
The last Republican holding a statewide elected office on the entire West Coast of the United State has left their post. In this photo, a woman walks past the elephant logo of the Republican Party on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 in Cleveland. Dominick Reuter/AFP via Getty Images

In 2018, California Republicans hit rock bottom when they were momentarily relegated to third-party status in the state. They've since regained prominence over registered independents, but today Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state nearly two-to-one. In the most recent statewide election, a GOP-led effort to recall Governor Gavin Newsom, failed by 3 million votes.

"While it was always kind of a Democrat state, there were liberal Republicans," Democratic strategist Michael Starr Hopkins said of California. "Well, the Republican Party doesn't have space for liberal Republicans anymore. And so I think that's just the dynamics of where we are as a country."

Hopkins, a founding partner of Northern Starr Strategies who worked on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaigns, attributed the Democrats' dominance on the West Coast as additional proof of increasing polarization.

"We're seeing a real shift, and it's a trend of the country: people live in silos now," he told Newsweek. "Places that were purple have now become really blue, and places that are red have become much more red."

But Heimlich said he's optimistic that Washington Republicans can defeat Hobbs in the 2022 special election, which he will need to win in order to finish out the remainder of Wyman's term.

"Politics is transitory," Heimlich told Newsweek. "Things shift, things change. But I think the Democrats' strength and domination on the West Coast does have a shelf life."