This Virginia congressional election could make history

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(WASHINGTON) — Democrat Jennifer McClellan will face off against Republican Leon Benjamin on Tuesday in a special election for Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, where voters will decide who will fill the seat of the late Rep. A. Donald McEachin, who died in November.

If McClellan pulls out a victory as she is heavily favored to, given the area’s voting history, she will become the first Black woman from Virginia in Congress. She is a lawyer and longtime local lawmaker, currently serving as a state senator.

Benjamin, a pastor, previously ran for the seat and lost to McEachin in November, shortly before his death after being diagnosed with cancer.

McClellan has received endorsements from Virginia’s entire Democratic congressional delegation, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.

Early voting in the state began in January and finished on Saturday.

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McClellan won the district’s so-called firehouse primary for the Democratic nomination in December, with 84% of the votes.

Her top issues include the environment, abortion access and voting rights. Benjamin is running on education, more significant funding for police to combat crime and restricting abortion access.

During her time in the state legislature, McClellan passed more than 350 pieces of legislation.

Appearing on ABC’s GMA3 earlier this month, McClellan said that her experience in the Virginia state legislature would help her navigate the political divide in Congress.

Currently, Republicans hold a slim majority in the House of Representatives.

“The step is first listening,” McClellan said. “Focusing on solving problems, finding common ground where you can’t and if you can’t [find] it, then just pushing forward for what’s best for your constituents and the country.”

This is not McClellan’s first run for higher office. In 2021, she ran to be governor of Virginia but lost in the primary to Terry McAuliffe, who was defeated by Republican Glenn Youngkin.

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