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caption: Former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland is one of two African-American women running for Washington's 10th Congressional District
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Former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland is one of two African-American women running for Washington's 10th Congressional District
Credit: Marilyn Strickland Campaign

Former Tacoma Mayor Strickland takes early lead in Washington state congressional race

Washington state has never elected a Black person to Congress, but voters in the 10th Congressional District — south of Seattle — might change that this year.

There are two Black women running for the open seat vacated by Congressman Denny Heck: Former Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and former State Rep. Kristine Reeves.

Strickland was the top vote-getter Tuesday night with 21% of support behind her. “Ballots are still being counted but we will likely move on to the general election,” she said.

RELATED: Aug. 4 Primary Election Results

Strickland cited her “proven leadership” during “times of crisis” as a key draw for supporters.

“When this campaign started in December, we didn’t imagine we would be in the middle of a pandemic, an economic crisis, and social unrest because of racial inequality,” she said.

State Rep. Beth Doglio came in second place Tuesday with around around 14% of votes. She's a Democrat who was endorsed by Socialist U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders.

“I think these results are really a win for working families in the South Sound —unions who are representing more than half a million working people,” she said.

Kristine Reeves was just behind Doglio in third place with 13% of votes.

“Voters in the 10th are eager for somebody who has a different lived experience that better reflects the hardworking families in the 10th [district],” Reeves said.

Reeves has a lead over Doglio in Pierce and Mason counties but trails in Thurston County where Doglio took the most votes of any candidate.

Among Republicans, U.S. Army Veteran and small business owner Rian Ingrim has the lead with around 11% of votes after the first count.

In Washington’s top-two primary system, only the two candidates with the most votes will go through to the general election, regardless of party.