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Jennifer McClellan poised to make history in Congress for Virginia

Jennifer McClellan
Posted at 9:44 AM, Dec 22, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. — Senator Jennifer McClellan won the Democratic nomination for the 4th Congressional District seat to potentially succeed the late Congressman Donald McEachin, according to the Democratic Party of Virginia.

If McClellan wins in February, she would become the first Black woman to represent Virginia in Congress.

Virginia Democrats finished counting the historic number of ballots cast early Thursday morning from the firehouse primary on Tuesday.

With 27,900 votes cast, it was the largest party-run nomination process in the history of the Democratic Party of Virginia, the group said.

The Democratic voters of the 4th Congressional District delivered the following results:

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%)

Next, McClellan will go up against Pastor Leon Benjamin, a Richmond native and Navy veteran who has twice unsuccessfully challenged McEachin, in a special election on Feb. 21.

Sen. Joe Morrissey, who took the second-most votes in the primary, has already conceded. He released a statement on Thursday that said, in part:

"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."

Morrissey had accused Democrats of working against him in planning Tuesday’s primary. which was held on short notice after McEachin’s death on Nov. 28 after a battle with colon cancer.

McClellan, 49, a corporate attorney, has represented parts of the Richmond area in the General Assembly since 2006. She ran for governor in 2021 but lost the Democratic primary to Terry McAuliffe.

If elected to Congress, she would represent the state’s 4th District, a majority-minority district based in Richmond that stretches south to the North Carolina border.

McEachin’s widow, Colette — herself an elected official in Richmond — was among a number of high-profile endorsers of McClellan. Del. Lamont Bagby dropped out of the race last week in a move widely seen as an effort to prevent Morrissey from emerging victorious on a fractured ballot.

The primary was run by the Democratic Party, with balloting at eight sites located throughout the district. Virginia voters do not register by political party, so voting was open to all registered voters willing to sign a pledge indicating they are a Democrat and intend to support the party’s nominee.

Voting occurred Tuesday, but the party did not count begin counting ballots until Wednesday.

Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker will hold a press conference at the group's headquarters at 10 a.m. on Thursday to talk about the historic nomination.

WRTV first reported this story.