Moderate Democrat Strickland takes one of two spots on ballot for open Washington seat

Two candidates still running split progressive endorsements

Democrat Marilyn Strickland won one of two spots on the November ballot for the open House seat in Washington's 10th District. (Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
Democrat Marilyn Strickland won one of two spots on the November ballot for the open House seat in Washington's 10th District. (Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
Posted August 6, 2020 at 11:08am

Democrat Marilyn Strickland has claimed the top spot in the primary for Washington’s open 10th District, while two more liberal competitors in a crowded field wait for votes to be tallied to find out who would oppose her.

Washington state elections are run entirely by mail, and candidates run on the same primary ballot, with the top two finishers, regardless of party, advancing to the general election.

Strickland, who served as the mayor of Tacoma from 2010 to 2018, led with 21 percent of the vote Thursday morning, according to tallies by The Associated Press, which declared on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Pacific time that she had made the November ballot. 

Vying for the second spot were state Rep. Beth Doglio and former state Rep. Kristine Reeves. As of Thursday morning, Doglio had 14 percent of the vote to Reeves’ 13 percent, according to AP tallies.

None of the eight GOP candidates appeared to have received enough support to qualify for the November ballot, ensuring that a Democrat would hold the Olympia-anchored seat being vacated by Rep. Denny Heck, who is running for lieutenant governor. (Heck advanced to the general election in that race.)

Strickland overcame more than $100,000 spent against her by labor unions, including the political arms of the Service Employees International Union and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. She previously served as CEO of Seattle’s Chamber of Commerce when it riled progressives by backing a challenger to a sitting city council member in 2019.

The challenge did not succeed, but the effort — backed primarily by a $1.5 million political donation from Amazon — drew attention from from prominent national figures, including Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Strickland has been a prominent political figure in the state for years, including serving on Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s transition team in 2012.

She ran a campaign that resisted some of the pull from the progressive wing of the party, emphasizing issues such as public-private partnerships, small-business recovery and universal broadband.

If elected, she would be the first Black member of Congress from Washington state, and the first Korean American congresswoman.

Reeves and Doglio split progressive votes and endorsements.

Doglio, who has represented an Olympia-based legislative district since 2017, raked in more than $600,000 in donations, support from Sanders and close to $400,000 in outside spending support. Doglio, who is bisexual, would be the state’s first openly LGBTQ member of Congress.

She was also backed by prominent progressives in the state, including Seattle-area Rep. Pramila Jayapal and the Washington State Labor Council. She has said she would support the Green New Deal and “Medicare for All,” if elected.

Doglio worked as an advocate for decades before running for elected office. She served as the founding executive director of Washington Conservation Voters from 1991 to 1995.

Reeves, who would be the state’s first Black Latina member of Congress, drew significant support in the crowded primary from BOLD PAC, the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. She also had the support of Rep. Adam Smith, who represented parts of the district before 2012 redistricting.

As part of her campaign, Reeves said she would back an expansion of the 2010 health care law and “move as quickly as possible” toward universal health care coverage. 

Strickland’s apparent first-place finish comes after an expensive primary, which saw the top three candidates raise a combined $1.5 million and outside groups spend more than $700,000.

Democrats have held the seat since its creation after the 2010 census from parts of the old 9th and 3rd districts. Heck won each race by about 10 points, the closest being a 9-point victory over Republican Joyce McDonald in 2014.

Hillary Clinton carried the district by 12 points in 2016, following President Barack Obama’s 15-point victory there four years earlier.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the general election Solid Democratic.