Washington's Secretaries of State - Past and Present

Secretary of State Steve Hobbs

Steve Hobbs is the 16th and current Secretary of State.

Kim Wyman

Kim Wyman, a Republican, was elected Washington’s 15th Secretary of State in 2012 and served two full terms. She resigned during her third term in November 2021 to join the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. She was only the second female secretary of state in Washington's history. Prior to being elected to this office, Kim served as Thurston County Elections Director for nearly a decade and served three terms as the elected Thurston County Auditor (2001-2013). Secretary Wyman graduated from California State University Long Beach and earned her master’s degree in Public Administration from Troy State University. City University of Seattle awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in Leadership in 2015, and she received CERA certification from The Election Center and Auburn University in 2004. 

Sam Reed

Sam Reed, a Republican, was elected Washington’s 14th Secretary of State in 2000 and served three terms. Secretary Reed was born in 1941 in Portland, Oregon, and grew up in Wenatchee and Spokane. He attended Washington State University, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Studies and a Master’s Degree in Political Science. Reed served as Assistant Secretary of State under Lud Kramer and Bruce Chapman. Gov. Dan Evans appointed Reed Director of the Urban Affairs Commission and the Constitutional Reform Commission. Reed was elected Thurston County Auditor five times before becoming Secretary of State. As Secretary, Reed served as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, and he received several national honors for programs run by his office. 

Ralph Munro

Ralph Munro, a Republican, was elected Washington's 13th Secretary of State in 1980 and served five terms. Secretary Munro was born in 1943 in Seattle, Washington, and spent his childhood on Bainbridge Island. He attended Western Washington University and received his B.A. in Education and Political Science. Governor Dan Evans appointed him in 1969 as the State's first volunteer coordinator. He currently resides on Triple Creek Farm in Thurston County and remains active in election reform and international trade issues.

Bruce Chapman

Bruce Chapman, a Republican, was appointed Washington's 12th Secretary of State in 1975. He was elected in a special election in 1975 and re-elected in 1976 and served one full term. Secretary Chapman was born in 1940 in Evanston, Illinois and attended grade school there. In 1962, he graduated from Harvard University and worked as an editorial writer for the New York Herald Tribune until 1966 when he moved to Seattle. Chapman was elected to the Seattle City Council in 1971 and appointed Secretary of State in 1975. He was defeated in the 1980 primary for Governor. He served as Director of the U.S. Census Bureau (1981 – 1983) and as Deputy Assistant to President Reagan (1983-1985). Chapman currently is the President of the Discovery Institute in Seattle, Washington and lives in King County.

Lud Kramer

Lud Kramer, a Republican, was elected Washington's 11th Secretary of State in 1964 and re-elected twice. Secretary Kramer was born in 1932 in New York City, where he spent his childhood. He joined the Air Force and moved to Washington State in 1957. He worked for the banking industry in Seattle. In 1961 he was elected to the Seattle City Council. In 1964, he defeated incumbent Vic Meyers. He lost a bid for Congress in 1974 and resigned during his third term on Jan 15, 1975. Lud Kramer died at his home in Liberty Lake on April 9, 2004.

Vic Meyers

Vic Meyers, a Democrat, was elected Washington's 10th Secretary of State in 1956 and served two terms. Secretary Meyers was born in 1898 in Little Falls, Minnesota, and spent his childhood in Seattle. His interest in music led him to become a nationally recognized leader of his own orchestra. In 1930, he ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Seattle. In 1932, he was elected Lieutenant Governor, serving five terms and was defeated in the General Election of 1952. Elected Secretary of State in 1956, he was defeated for a third term in 1964. Vic Meyers died in Seattle on May 28, 1991.

Earl Coe

Earl Coe, a Democrat, was appointed Washington's ninth Secretary of State in January, 1948, by Governor Monrad Wallgren and served two terms. Secretary Coe was born in 1892 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He spent his childhood in Minneapolis before moving to Bingen, Klickitat County, Washington in 1913 to start a career in the apple, shipping and lumber business. Coe’s involvement in politics began in the early 1930's. He was elected State Representative in 1938 and in 1944 to the State Senate. He unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1946 from central Washington and served as State Democratic Party Chairman from 1946-1948. He lost to Al Rosellini in the 1956 Democratic gubernatorial primary election. Governor Rosellini appointed Coe director of the Department of Conservation in 1957. Earl Coe died in Olympia on May 23, 1964.

Belle Reeves

Belle Reeves, a Democrat, was appointed Washington's eighth Secretary of State in February, 1938 by Governor Clarence Martin and served two and-a-half terms. Secretary Reeves was born in 1871 in Quincy, Ohio, where she spent her childhood. Her family moved to Washington in 1889. She lived in Wenatchee where she and her husband ran the town's first newspaper, The Wenatchee Advance. Her political career began in 1922 when she was elected to the House of Representatives. She represented the 56th Legislative District for eight terms from 1922-1938 before being appointed Secretary of State. Belle Reeves died in Olympia during her second full term on January 2, 1948.

Ernest Hutchinson

Ernest Hutchinson, a Democrat, was elected Washington's seventh Secretary of State in 1932 and served one-and-a-half terms. Secretary Hutchinson was born in 1864 in Milford, New York, where he spent his childhood. He headed west and became a stage coach driver in South Dakota and a ranch hand in the panhandle of Texas. He enrolled in the University of Chicago and was trained as a veterinarian. Hutchinson’s political life began when President Cleveland appointed him as meat inspector in San Francisco. He moved north and established the Federal Inspection Service in King County Area. Ernest Hutchinson died in Seattle during his second term on Jan 30, 1938.

Jay Hinkle

Jay Hinkle, a Republican, was appointed Washington's sixth Secretary of State in July 1920 by Governor Louis Hart. He served three terms. Secretary Hinkle was born in Renssaalar, Indiana. He grew up in Colorado and moved to Spokane, Washington, where he was an advertising manager for The Spokane Chronicle. He served in the Washington National Guard for three years and served in the Philippines during the Spanish-American war. He became involved in politics in the early 1900's and was named the Assistant Secretary of State in 1910. He ran unopposed in the 1928 election and was defeated in the 1932 and 1936 general elections. Jay Hinkle died in Spokane on February 21, 1959.

Captain Ithamar Howell

Captain Ithamar Howell, a Republican, was appointed Washington's fifth Secretary of State in May 1909 by Governor Marion Hay and elected twice. Secretary Howell was born in 1866 in Waukon, Iowa, and spent his childhood in Rock Rapids, Iowa. In 1877, he moved with his family to Tacoma. Howell received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oregon State Normal School in Monmouth, Oregon. He served in the Washington Territorial and National Guard from 1880 to 1895. In 1899, he was elected Pierce County Assessor. In 1901, Howell became chief deputy in the County Auditor's Office and served as Clerk to the Board of Commissioners. He made an unsuccessful primary bid for Secretary of State in 1908. Captain Ithamar Howell died in Olympia during his second term on July 13, 1920.

Samuel Nichols

Samuel Nichols, a Republican, was elected Washington's fourth Secretary of State in 1900 and served two terms. Secretary Nichols was born in 1830 in Malden, Massachusetts. He spent his childhood in southern Minnesota. He served in the Minnesota Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. Nichols held town and county positions in Olmsted County, Minnesota. He also served as the assistant Chief Clerk and Chief Clerk of the Minnesota House of Representatives and eleven years as Clerk of the Minnesota Supreme Court. He moved to Washington in 1891 and settled in Everett. Nichols was a member of the original council for the new town of Everett. Due to allegations of malfeasance, he resigned in May of 1909. Samuel Nichols died in Everett on April 5th, 1913.

Will Jenkins

Will Jenkins, a Populist, was elected Washington's third Secretary of State in 1896 and served one term. Secretary Jenkins was born in 1852 in Pekin, Illinois, and spent his childhood on the plains of Western Kansas and Nebraska. He came to Seattle in 1892 and was editor of the Seattle Chronicle. He moved to Whatcom in 1887 and established the Whatcom Reveille. Upon the consolidation of the towns of Whatcom and Sehome, he was elected the first Mayor of New Whatcom (later Bellingham). President Harrison appointed him supervisor of the United States census for the district of Western Washington in 1890. In 1892 he changed his political affiliation from Republican to Populist and became editor of the New Whatcom-based Populist newspaper, The Champion. He was defeated for re-election in 1900. Will Jenkins died in Bellingham in 1909.

James Price

James Price, a Republican, was elected Washington's second Secretary of State in 1892 and served one term. Secretary Price was born in 1847 in Oregon City, Oregon, and grew up in Portland, Oregon. He served in the First Oregon Infantry Regiment from 1866 – 1870. He attended Portland Commercial College where he earned a business degree. Price was a railroad engineer and member of the Corps of Engineers. He moved to the Puget Sound region in 1874 and worked in the customs service for 11 years. He was elected Pierce County Sheriff in 1882 and served two terms. Price lost his third race for Secretary of State in 1896. James Price died in Tacoma on April 10, 1919.

Allan Weir

Allen Weir, a Republican, was elected Washington's first Secretary of State in 1889 and served one term. Secretary Weir was born in 1854 in El Monte, California, and spent his childhood on a farm in Clallam County, Washington. He graduated from Olympia Union Academy in 1877. Weir worked for the Territorial Printer and later became editor of The Olympian newspaper. He purchased the Puget Sound Argus newspaper in Port Townsend in 1879, which he owned for 10 years. Weir was elected Secretary of the Territorial Senate for the 1879 session. He was appointed to the Board of Regents for the University of Washington where he served six years as Board President. He was elected to the Territorial Council of 1888-1889 and served as a member of the 1889 Constitutional Convention from Jefferson County, Washington. He was admitted to the Washington State Bar in 1892. Due to the success of his law practice, he chose not to run for a second term. Allen Weir died in Port Townsend on October 31, 1916.