On Tuesday, February 21st a special election was held to fill a vacant congress position that was originally held by the late Representative Don McEachin, who died in November just weeks after winning his reelection for a fourth term.
Jennifer McClellan, a vice chairwoman for Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus and also a former gubernational candidate, led the election against Republican Leon Benjamin by a percentage of 68-32 When Associated Press (AP) called the race. McClellan won with a final percentage of 74.3 to Benjamin’s percentage of 25.7and this marked the first time in history that Virginia’s elected a Black woman to Congress.
McClellan has been involved in politics for a while, her latest win being the primary’s that took place last December. She has also spent over 10 years as a part of Virginias house of Delegates and even succeeded McEachin in the senate when he was elected to Congress back in 2016.
After her Primary win in December, McClellan explained how she believed that the lack of Black women in Virginia’s Congressional District was due to what could only be described as an “Imaginary Gap that only saw specific people being in Congress”. She said part of is it that most Black women didn’t tend to get involved in politics till later in their lives, however its past time that Virginia had one.
The district itself spans 15 cities and counties in the state, however one of the biggest chunks of votes come from the city of Richmond, Virginia which is a predominately Black community. The spot she is filling is considered a “Deep Blue” seat that McClellan was already favored to win in the December 2022 Primaries.
During the Primary Election, McClellan received a major outpour of support from both local and national Democratic Politicians and Groups. Just throughout the Primary and general election, McClellan managed to raise over $900’000 dollars. McClellan’s campaign focused on her previous work she has done in the past with the State Legislation. This work ranges from Voting rights to Environmental Protections.
With her win, she now brings the House of Representatives to its full capacity of 435. This will only last a few months however, as another special election is being planned to take place as another member, David Cicilline announced he would be leaving Congress to be the head of the Rhode Island Foundation.
In her victory speech on Tuesday night, she paid tribute to McEachin and stated she was ready to get to work and fight for everyone in Congress.