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Marilyn Strickland served two terms as mayor of Tacoma before becoming the CEO and president of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce in 2018. (Seattle Metro Chamber Photo)

Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO Marilyn Strickland is running for Congress as a Democrat. The former mayor of Tacoma, Wash., launched her candidacy for Washington’s 10th Congressional District on Thursday after Rep. Denny Heck announced he will not seek re-election in 2020. Strickland will step down as president and CEO of the Chamber at the end of January.

“Running for public office, especially for Congress, is demanding and time-consuming,” she said in a statement. “The Chamber needs the undivided attention of its CEO.”

Strickland joined the Chamber in 2018 and oversaw a high-profile bid to elect a new slate of Seattle City Council members last month. Amazon donated $1.45 million to help the Chamber promote its chosen candidates in a move that received national attention and is largely considered to have backfired. Just two Chamber-backed candidates were elected, one of whom was an incumbent who also had support from progressives.

Under Strickland’s leadership, the Chamber has promoted pragmatism in government and a regional approach to issues like homelessness. The organization lobbies on behalf of more than 2,000 businesses in the greater Seattle region.

“Marilyn and the Chamber team have navigated the last two years with a commitment to bringing people together, driving more inclusive business success, and bringing a truly regional view,” said Chamber Chair Diana Birkett Rakow in a statement. “Marilyn and I are working with board leadership on a transition plan, and I have full confidence that the team will continue to build on the positive work of the past two years.”

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