Virginia state Sen. Jennifer McClellan has clinched the Democratic nomination in the 4th Congressional District, putting her on track to become the first Black woman to represent Virginia in Congress, the Washington Post reports.
McClellan's win, announced on Thursday (December 22) by Democratic officials, comes in a special primary election held to determine who would succeed Rep. Donald McEachin, who died last month just weeks after winning reelection in Virginia's 4th Congressional District.
McClellan overwhelmingly secured the nomination with 23,661 votes over Sen. Joe Morrissey, a controversial figure among Virginia Democrats who garnered 3,782 votes. She will now face off against Republican nominee Leon Benjamin in a Feb. 21 special election for the 4th District seat, a heavily Democratic area in which McClellan is highly favored to win.
Since 2006, McClellan has represented parts of Richmond in the General Assembly. A number of high-profile political figures endorsed McClellan's run including McEachin’s widow, Colette, who is also an elected official in Richmond, and Del. Lamont Bagby, who dropped out of the race last week in an effort to seemingly prevent Morrissey from securing the nomination on a fractured ballot.
The primary election, held on Tuesday (December 20), was run by the Democratic Party. Virginians don't register by political party, so the ballot was open to all registered voters who signed a pledge indicating that they're a Democrat and intend to support the party’s nominee.
“Tuesday’s party-run process saw historic turnout with 27, 900 votes cast, making it the largest party-run nomination process in the history of the Democratic Party of Virginia,” according to the party’s website.
If McClellan wins the highly-favored contest in February, she will make history as the first Black congresswoman to represent Virginia.