Democrat Makes History With Special Election Win in Virginia

Democrat Jennifer McClellan will be first Black woman to represent Virginia in Congress
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 22, 2023 12:00 AM CST
Democrat Makes History With Special Election Win in Virginia
State Sen. Jennifer McClellan D-Richmond celebrates at her election party after winning the seat for Virginia's 4th Congressional District on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, in Richmond, Va.   (AP Photo/John C. Clark)

Virginia voters on Tuesday elected Democrat Jennifer McClellan, a veteran state legislator from Richmond, to fill an open seat in the US House of Representatives, where she will make history as the first Black woman to represent the state in Congress, the AP reports. “We will make this commonwealth and this country a better place for everyone,” McClellan said in a victory speech at a party with supporters in Richmond. “I am ready to get to work.” McClellan, 50, prevailed over right-wing Republican Leon Benjamin in the special election for the blue-leaning 4th District, which has its population center in the capital city and stretches south to the North Carolina border.

The seat was open after the death of Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin, who passed away following a long fight with the secondary effects of colorectal cancer in November, weeks after being elected to a fourth term. McClellan's election won’t change the balance of power of the US House, which Republicans narrowly control. “Historical. Had to be a part of it,” voter Rashida Mitchell said of the ballot she cast for McClellan on Tuesday afternoon. “She’s done great things for the city of Richmond, for the commonwealth as a whole.” Prior to Tuesday, only 22 states had ever elected a Black woman to Congress, according to a recent Pew Research Center analysis of historical records. McClellan said breaking that barrier in Virginia carries extra weight because of her family’s history in the Jim Crow South. (More on her history here.)

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