From left, Nancy Slotnick, Marilyn Strickland, Joshua Collins, Kristine Reeves, Ryan Tate. Additionally, Phil Gardner announced his candidacy Wednesday. 

In 10 months, voters in the 10th Congressional District will know who they’ll send to Washington, D.C., to represent them on the national level.

For now, there are six candidates competing for the role.

Last month, Congressman Denny Heck, D-Olympia, announced his retirement after having served the district for about seven years. Shortly following his announcement that he would not seek a fifth term, prominent Democrats and a relatively unknown Republican announced their candidacies, seeking the seat in one of Washington state’s most moderate Democratic districts.

The six candidates currently running for Heck’s district are Joshua Collins, Kristine Reeves, Marilyn Strickland, Nancy Slotnick, Phil Gardner and Ryan Tate.

Under the state’s top two primary system, the two candidates with the most votes will advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation.

The 10th District is Washington’s newest district and was created following the 2010 United States Census.

The district includes most of Thurston County and parts of southern Pierce County. Puyallup, Olympia, Lacey, University Place, Yelm, Rainier and Roy are all within the boundaries of the 10th.

Members of both the U.S. House and Senate receive an annual base salary of $174,000.

State Sen. Randi Becker, R-Olympia, who represents Washington’s Second Legislative District, said she thinks it’s plausible a moderate Republican could win over the district.

Aside from Washington’s 8th Congressional District, which is represented by Kim Schrier, the 10th is the most moderate district held by Democrats, according to the Cook Partisan Voting Index.

Former state Rep. Kristine Reeves announced her run a couple weeks ago. She’s the fifth and one of the most recent candidates to enter the race.

As a Democrat elected in 2016 to represent the 30th Legislative District, which includes Federal Way, Reeves was a member of the Capital Budget and Community Development Committee as well as the Business and Financial Services Committee.

“I’m proud to have helped accomplish important progressive priorities here in this Washington — investing in paid family leave and apprenticeship programs, taking on climate change, helping seniors stay in their homes and ensuring that health care is a right not a privilege,” Reeves said in a Jan. 6 video announcing her candidacy. “But there’s so much more to do.”

About a month ago, shortly after Heck’s announcement, Reeves resigned from her seat in the Legislature.

In her announcement for a congressional run, Reeves said she’ll look to invest in education and for an equitable economy if elected to the seat.

Marilyn Strickland, former mayor of Tacoma and CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, is also vying for the Democratic seat.

As Tacoma mayor, Strickland led work on city transportation, education, international investment and economic opportunities, according to her biography on the chamber’s website.

Strickland plans on stepping down from her current post at the chamber at the end of January.

Neither Strickland nor Reeves live in the district, a report by the Seattle Times states. Candidates don’t need to live within the congressional district they’re running for, according to the requirements of the U.S. Constitution, which states only that they must live in the state.

On Wednesday, Heck’s District Director, Phil Gardner, announced his bid for Congress. Gardner has worked for Heck in multiple capacities since 2011 and, if elected, would be the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress representing Washington state constituents, his campaign biography states.

Joshua Collins, a Democratic Socialist, announced his run for Congress back in early 2019 and lives within the district.

The 26-year-old truck driver from Olympia is hoping to ride on the wave of progressive far-left candidates who have been winning out congressional seats all across the country. But many critics say Collins’ platform is too broad and too progressive.

Collins originally began his campaign to run on the proposition of passing a Green New Deal and defeating Heck, who he’s labeled as a corporate Democrat not working for the people.

“My platform is not something that represents just one part of the population. I built a platform that includes the needs of every part of the working class,” Collins told the Nisqually Valley News. “We covered all of it and made sure that I’m going to be clear that I’m going to push for progress for everyone, not just a certain sect of the population.”

From January 2019 through September 2019, Collins and his campaign raised more than $43,000 through individual contributions, according to FEC filings. Collins claims his campaign raised more than $25,000 in the 24 hours following Heck’s resignation.

Since the U.S.-led drone strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, Collins said he’s refocused on running his campaign on an anti-war message.

Ryan Tate, a moderate Republican who lives in Tacoma, said he began his run for Congress shortly after Hecks’ retirement in response to Collins’ policies.

“I felt his policies were so far to the left that they wouldn’t pass,” Tate told the Nisqually Valley news. “I’m seeing this a lot on the democratic side where we see a lot of feel-good policies … but I’m not seeing a clear and fundamental way on how you’re going to pay for it.”

Tate, a software engineer for a digital banking firm, said he’s running to help balance the federal budget and use his business background to leverage beneficial trade agreements with China. He also said he’s running on solving mental illness, the homeless crisis and reforming the corporate tax rate.

“It’s not black or white. It’s about finding the best mix of policy to find better solutions,” Tate said.

Tate does agree with Collins on one thing: A $20 federal minimum wage, which he said is needed to boost spending.

But unlike Collins, who has a head start on raising money and knocking on doors, Tate may have some ground to pick up to flip the seat red.

Nancy Slotnick, an Independent candidate turned Republican after a failed run for Heck’s seat in 2018, is running again for representation on veterans issues, education and Social Security.

Slotnick, a U.S. Army veteran who now runs a small security consulting firm and lives in Midland, said she’s hoping to leverage a will to collaborate in Congress to help persuade traditionally Democrat voters to vote for her.

“We all want the same things … The problem is that both sides have a different perspective on how to fix it,” Slotnick said.

Slotnick was raised in Ohio by her working-class, single mother who influenced the way she thought about politics early on.

“When I grew up, my mother always talked with us about issues at home … She talked about the issues, not so much about the candidates,” she recalled.

She came to Washington state through JBLM in 1987.

The Nisqually Valley News plans on submitting additional questions to each candidate later this year as the field becomes more defined. If there’s a topic you’d like to hear from the candidates, email news@yelmonline.com with the subject “Question for 10th Candidates.”

For more information on the candidates, their websites are listed below.

Joshua Collins: www.joshua2020.com

Kristine Reeves: www.kristinereeves.com

Nancy Slotnick: www.nancyforus.org

Marilyn Strickland: Not Listed

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