State legislator wins House special election in Virginia to succeed Donald McEachin


Democrat Jennifer McClellan will be the state's first Black congresswoman.

Voters in Virginia's 4th Congressional District elected Democratic state Sen. Jennifer McClellan in a special election on Tuesday to finish the term of the late Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin. McClellan's margin of victory over Republican Leon Benjamin appears to be about 10 points better than McEachin's margin over the same opponent in the 2022 midterm election.

McClellan, who has served in the Virginia General Assembly since she was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2005, will be the first Black woman to represent Virginia in Congress.

According to preliminary data from the Virginia Department of Elections, not including late-arriving mailed ballots or provisional votes, McClellan received 74.22% of the vote to Benjamin's 25.68%.

McEachin's 2022 margin was 64.92%-34.9%. President Joe Biden won the district 67.2%-31.5% over Donald Trump in 2020.

McClellan's campaign focused on her progressive record in the Legislature of fighting for reproductive choice, voting rights, LGBTQ equality, gun safety, public education, and climate change action.

Benjamin took the opposite positions on virtually every issue.

Christian nationalist pastor with a long history of bigoted comments, he has falsely claimed that LGBTQ people can be converted to be straight; that both he and former President Donald Trump had their elections stolen from them; that climate change is not a threat; and that diverting public education funding to private and parochial schools would improve the quality of education everywhere. He spread COVID-19 misinformation, including claims that the swabs for PCR testing put "graphite" into a person's body "that can form its own system — wiring system inside you that is controlled by 5G."

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin endorsed Benjamin in the special election, as he did in the 2022 general election.

Voters in recent elections in Virginia and elsewhere have largely ignored Youngkin's advice, rejecting his choices in a key Virginia state Senate special election in January and in contested governors races in 2022.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Suzan DelBene celebrated McClellan's "historic victory" in a statement, saying: "From safeguarding abortion access, to strengthening workers' rights, to expanding economic opportunities for all, she has worked tirelessly to ensure every Virginian can thrive. I'm certain that, like her predecessor, Congresswoman-elect McClellan will serve as an incredibly strong member of the House Democratic caucus as we continue to fight for the American people."

The victory will bring the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives up to 213 seats — just five seats away from regaining the majority.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.