Democrat Jennifer McClellan is projected to win the U.S. House special election in Virginia for the seat left open after the death of Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) last year.
Multiple news outlets made the call Tuesday evening less than an hour after the polls closed. With 86% of precincts reporting, McClellan led with about 73% of the vote over Republican Leon Benjamin with roughly 27%.
McClellan’s march to victory is being touted as historic because she is poised to become the first black woman to represent Congress from Virginia.
✅ @JennMcClellanVA has won her race for the U.S. Congress in VA-04!
She is the first Black congresswoman to be elected in the Commonwealth of Virginia. pic.twitter.com/hiZrjY83Je
— Virginia Democrats (@vademocrats) February 22, 2023
“On the day that would have been John Lewis’ 83rd birthday, Virginia voters elected the first black woman to Congress. Congratulations to my new colleague, Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan,” tweeted Ritchie Torres (D-NY), referring to the late civil rights leader and U.S. congressman John Lewis.
McClellan is a corporate lawyer who has served as a member of the Virginia state legislature since 2006. She ran for governor in 2021, but got third place in the Democratic primary. Terry McAuliffe, a former governor, won that primary but lost the general election to Glenn Youngkin.
McEachin, a U.S. congressman since 2017, died at the age of 61 in November from complications stemming from his years-long battle with cancer weeks after winning re-election.
In this year’s race to win the Richmond-area district, pre-special election reports showed McClellan out-raised and outspent Benjamin, a Navy veteran and pastor, according to CNN.
McClellan boasts a “record of results, championing the passage of major progressive laws and fighting on behalf of her constituents in greater Richmond for the past 17 years,” according to her website. In addition to listing McClellan’s legislative accomplishments, the website says the Democrat has worked with a “commitment for progress, equity, and justice in the Commonwealth.”
The race will not change the power dynamic in the House, where Republicans hold a slim majority. Democrats control the Senate and the White House.