By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
The special election to fill Virginia’s 4th U.S. Congressional seat will be held on February 21.
The contest will pit Democratic State Senator Jennifer McClellan against conservative active Republican Leon Benjamin Sr.
The seat was vacated when U.S. Congressman Democrat Donald McEachin died on November 28, days after he won a fourth term in Congress. He was 61 and passed away due to complications from a 2013 bout with colorectal cancer.
Benjamin, a Black conservative, ran against McEachin during that 2022 midterm election and lost.
Benjamin was born in Richmond, Virginia and served in the U.S. Navy from 1986 to 1994. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Rovear Christian University in 2015. Benjamin’s career experience includes owning a business and working as a pastor, mentor, community consultant, and investor. He has been affiliated with New Life Harvest Church, the Coalition of Leaders United, the Real Remnant Church, Virginians for America First, Alpha Phi Alpha, Inc., and the King Foundation.
McClellan is a member of the Virginia State Senate, representing District 9. She assumed office in 2017. Her current term ends on January 10, 2024.
McClellan previously served in the Virginia House of Delegates, representing District 71 from 2006 to 2017.
McClellan was born in Petersburg, Virginia. She earned a B.A. in English and political science from the University of Richmond in 1994 and a J.D. from the University of Virginia in 1997.
Her career experience includes working as assistant general counsel with Verizon and as an associate with Hunton & Williams.
If she wins, she will be the first African American woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from the Commonwealth. Currently Congressman Robert Scott, 3rd District, is the lone African American member of Virginia’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 2020 McClellan was among several Black candidates who entered the nomination race to run for Governor.
The 4th District runs from metro Richmond southward to the Virginia-North Carolina state line. It includes the cities of Petersburg, Hopewell, Colonial Heights, Emporia, and Richmond; and the counties of Brunswick, Charles City, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Greensville, Henrico, Prince George, Southampton, Surry, and Sussex.
The 4th District is considered a reliable Democratic area.
If McClellan wins, a long list of African-American House and Senate members will be seeking to fill her seat, in a special election which will be called after February’s 21 election.
All of the state House and Senate Seats will be on the ballot this November.