Sen. McClellan wins Democratic nomination, faces Republican Leon Benjamin in 4th District Race

The special election is set for Feb. 21
Voters will decide who will represent the fourth congressional district during the special election set for Feb. 21.
Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 4:48 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In less than two months, voters will choose who will fill the fourth congressional district seat once held by late Congressman Donald McEachin before he passed away from complications due to colon cancer.

Democratic candidate Sen. Jennifer McClellan and Republican candidate Leon Benjamin will be vying for this spot in the U.S. House.

On Thursday morning, Sen. Jennifer McClellan was named the Democratic nominee more than 17 hours after volunteers started counting 27,900 ballots by hand on Wednesday following Tuesday’s firehouse primary.

“I am ready to take that record, that experience, that passion for servant leadership, I am ready to take that to Washington to be your voice there, to bring a new perspective to the Virginia delegation that’s never had a Black woman sitting at the table,” said Sen. McClellan during her victory speech on Thursday.

McClellan won nearly 85 percent of the vote. The Democratic Party of Virginia listed the results as follows:

  • Jennifer L. McClellan – 23,661 (84.81%)
  • Joseph D. Morrissey – 3,782 (13.56%)
  • Tavorise K. Marks – 217 (0.78%)
  • Joseph E. Preston – 174 (0.62%)
  • Unallocated – 66 (0.24%)

McClellan also reflected on the impact her friend and mentor, the late Congressman Donald McEachin, made.

“I feel him here,” said Sen. McClellan. “I feel him here. I will carry on his legacy.”

On Saturday, Republican Leon Benjamin was chosen as the nominee for the fourth congressional district special election through ranked-choice voting.

“We were prepared to go up against any of the candidates,” said Benjamin in response to a question about how he felt going up against Sen. McClellan for the seat.

This is Benjamin’s third time running for the seat once held by late Congressman Donald McEachin. In 2020, Benjamin lost the race after McEachin received nearly 62 percent of the vote. In 2022, Benjamin also lost to McEachin, who got almost 65 percent of the vote.

“I believe that it’s time for a change, and I am the people’s voice,” said Benjamin. “We’re going to bring hope back to the community and we’re going to make sure we’re listening to the people, bringing their issues and concerns and I’m the best one to do that.”

As these candidates set their sights on the race ahead, they’re also planning on their priorities if they were elected to represent the fourth congressional district.

“Top one, I think the parents, education, protecting our children,” said Benjamin. “We have a program, an initiative called, ‘The Money Follows the Child.’” Parents need to have the power to send their children to a school system that’s going to educate their children.”

“My number one priority is help my constituents,” said Sen. McClellan. “We got the Voting Rights Act of Virginia passed, we need to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. We got the Reproductive Health Protection Act passed here. We need to, at a minimum, codify Roe V. Wade at the federal level.”

Senator Joe Morrissey also released the following statement:

“I want to congratulate Senator McClellan, her supporters, and especially, her family on her win today. Virginia has never sent a Black woman to congress. That will change next year. This is progress of which we all can all be proud of. I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure she prevails in the general election. If asked, I look forward to campaigning with her, particularly in areas I currently represent.”

The special election is set for Feb. 21.