Saturday, May 25, 2024

Va. Dem. McClellan Declared Winner in Congressional Special Election

'I look forward to taking my 18 years of servant leadership to Washington... '

(Madison Hirneisen, The Center Square) Virginia state Sen. Jennifer McClellan has been elected to fill the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives left vacant after the death of Rep. Donald McEachin, making history as the first black woman to be elected to Congress to represent the state.

The Associated Press called the special election race in the 4th Congressional District for McClellan at 7:22 p.m. Tuesday evening, shortly after polls closed. McClellan defeated Republican challenger Leon Benjamin, who ran against McEachin in the last two election cycles and was defeated both times.

McClellan, who served in the Virginia General Assembly since 2006, will succeed the late McEachin in Congress. McEachin died after a battle with colorectal cancer just weeks after winning re-election for a fourth term in 2022.

Throughout her campaign, McClellan expressed a dedication to carrying on McEachin’s legacy in Congress. In a victory speech Tuesday night, McClellan noted the three other black members of Congress who were elected before her. With McClellan’s win, she will be the fourth black member of Congress elected to represent Virginia.

“That is my legacy,” McClellan said Tuesday. “I look forward to building on that legacy.”

McClellan, a corporate attorney, was first elected to the House of Delegates and served there from 2006 to 2017. She was then elected to the State Senate in 2017, filling a seat previously held by McEachin when he was elected to Congress.

During her time in the General Assembly, McClellan carried bills to set clean energy goals, expand voting access, expand domestic worker’s rights and preserve abortion protections in the commonwealth. As voters headed to the polls Tuesday, McClellan was in the Senate awaiting passage of a bipartisan bill she co-patroned that would restore the State Corporation Commission’s authority to lower utility base rates when utility companies earn more than their authorized rate of return.

McClellan highlighted several legislative accomplishments during remarks, noting that intends to champion those issues in Congress.

“I look forward to taking my 18 years of servant leadership to Washington. We’ve done a lot of good here in Richmond in the state house – whether it was passing the Voting Rights Act, passing the Virginia Clean Economy Act, passing the Domestic Worker Bill of Rights. All of that work needs to be done in Washington.”

McClellan’s history-making win was celebrated by Democrats across the state. U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who endorsed McClellan ahead of the December firehouse primary, tweeted Tuesday that McClellan will be a “fantastic representative for VA-04.”

Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, released a statement Tuesday night saying McClellan’s “leadership will expand upon the outstanding progress and advocacy for which we remember Congressman A. Donald McEachin.”

“Jennifer McClellan’s history-making victory as the first black woman to be elected to Congress from Virginia will have ripple effects across the Commonwealth,” Swecker said.

It’s unclear at this time when McClellan will officially be sworn into Congress. She indicated Tuesday she intends to finish out the rest of the legislative session, which wraps up this week.

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