BERKELEY -- Elizabeth Echols, of Oakland, and Tony Thurmond, of Richmond, likely will square off in the race for the East Bay state Assembly seat in the November general election, with 100 percent of the voting precincts in Alameda and Contra Costa counties reporting from the Tuesday primary.

But both counties are still counting absentee ballots. Echols got the most votes so far, with 13,865, or about 31 percent out of a field of eight, with Thurmond getting 10,387 votes, or 23 percent of the vote.

Attorney Pamela Price, of Oakland, showed up behind Thurmond in third place with 7,625 votes. The district, which stretches from Oakland to Hercules, had no incumbent because Democrat Nancy Skinner is termed out.

Echols said even though she has never been elected to a public office, voters understood that her background working in the Clinton administration as executive director of the Electronic Commerce Working Group, then as director of the U.S. Green Building Council and later as the western regional director of the Small Business Administration involved writing policy and getting legislation passed.

"Most people do understand that I have worked on policy, and I do have experience in bringing people together to pass legislation," Echols said Wednesday.

Thurmond was happy in second place, a showing that gets him to the general election in November.

"I'm optimistic and grateful to the voters," he said. "This is a testament to the great grass-roots campaign we ran, powered by people who care about making positive changes in the community."

He pledged to "run a campaign powered by people and not by money."

The field of candidates was diverse and included Thurmond, a Democrat; Price, a Democrat; Clarence Hunt, a Democrat from Berkeley; Rich Kinney, a Republican from San Pablo; Sam Kang, a Democrat from Emeryville; Eugene Ruyle, a Peace and Freedom Party member from Oakland; Echols; and Bernt Wahl, an independent from Berkeley.

Contact Doug Oakley at 925-234-1699. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.