Indian American Manka Dhingra wins costliest primary in Washington State

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Manka Dhingra

Democratic candidate, Indian American Manka Dhingra, beat Republican candidate, Korean American Jinyoung Lee Englund, in the most costly state primaries of all-time in Washington State’s 45th District.

Dhingra won 51.5 percent of the votes whereas Englund won 42.11 percent of them and Parker Harris, Independent, won 6.84 percent of them.

More than $3 million was poured into the Aug. 1 race by both campaigns and Super PACs and both candidates are to contest again in the general election in November for which an estimate of more than $10 million is likely to pour in.

“With the help of over 500 local volunteers, we have knocked on more than 40,000 doors in the last few months and are ready to carry this energy into the general election,” Dhingra said in her victory speech.

“Together we can ensure experienced, effective, and local leadership represents 45th District families in Olympia,” she added.

This will be the senior deputy King County prosecutor’s first run for public office.

“I’m especially thrilled with Manka Dinghra’s strong performance in the 45th District — we were optimistic, but this is even better than expected.” said Tina Podlodowski, State Democratic Party Chair, adding that Dinghra’s victory “has put us in a great position for November’s general election, when turnout will be higher and even more favorable for Democrats.”

Accepting her defeat, Englund noted that the contest had made history with “two women candidates of Asian heritage running in the most expensive and important legislative race in Washington state” after the 45th District seat fell vacant last year following the death of Republican Senator Andy Hill.

Shekar Narasimhan, founder and co-chair of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Victory Fund, was happy with Dhingra’s victory stating that she would become the first Sikh woman to be elected to a state legislature and added that she had already been endorsed by former Washington State Gov. Gary Locke and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington).

“Quite likely, this is the most consequential political race for the Sikh-American community since Dilip Singh Saund was first elected 60 years ago,” said Varun Nikore, president of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Victory Fund, who also said that Dhingra’s victory was “symbolic and significant,” especially at a time when hate crimes are increasing since the presidential election.

“The entire West Coast from California to Oregon to Washington State will be a wall of blue.
The significance of this race for our community and the nation cannot be understated,” he added mentioning that if Dhingra won in November, it would be a great victory for the Democratic Party on the West Coast.

After 9/11, Dhingra served on the Seattle Police Department’s Muslim, Arab and Sikh Advisory Council to address hate crimes in the region, particularly targeting the Indian American community.

Dhingra is running for State Senate to address critical needs in education funding, mental health, violence prevention and to protect the rights of women.

As Chair of the King County’s Therapeutic Alternative Unit, she supervises the Regional Mental Health Court and oversees the Veterans Court that serves veterans with PTSD and the Community Assessment and Referral for Diversion program along with working directly with Harborview Hospital, mental health professionals and courts to improve criminal justice outcomes for mentally ill individuals and is a Board Member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Eastside.

Prior to becoming a King County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, she interned with the State Attorney General’s Office in their Criminal Division assisting with Sexually Violent Predator cases and also clerked for Justice Barbara Madsen at the Washington State Supreme Court from September 1997 to June 1998.

She holds a JD from the University of Washington School of Law and BA degrees in History and Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley.

Dhingra has been living in the 45th District for more than 20 years in the Education Hill neighborhood of Redmond, she has two children and her husband, Harjit Singh, is a Distinguished Engineer at SpaceX.