McClellan, Benjamin win nominations for 4th Congressional District special election

Published 5:32 pm Monday, December 26, 2022

State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, has won the Democratic Party’s nomination to run for the late U.S. Rep. A. Donald McEachin’s seat in a Feb. 21 special election.

McEachin, also a Democrat, represented Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, which spans from Richmond to the North Carolina border and includes Surry County. He was reelected to a two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 8 but died on Nov. 28 after a nine-year battle with cancer.

McClellan will face Republican challenger Leon Benjamin.

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The 4th District Democratic Committee held a Dec. 20 “firehouse primary,” which saw 23,661 voters, or just under 85% of the total, back McClellan over challengers state Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Petersburg, attorney Joseph Preston and Chesterfield County NAACP First Vice President Tavorise Marks. A “firehouse primary,” also known as an “unassembled caucus,” is run and funded by a political party, according to the Virginia Mercury.

According to a press release from the Democratic Party of Virginia, there were a total of 27,900 ballots cast across eight polling sites. At the Surry Parks and Recreation Center, the only polling site in Surry County for the primary, McClellan received 405 of 491 votes. Morrissey finished second with 82 Surry votes, amounting to 16.7% countywide, and 3,782 votes, or 13.5%, districtwide. Marks finished third with no Surry votes and 217, or 0.78%, districtwide. Preston finished last with only one Surry vote and 174, or 0.62%, districtwide. There were 66 districtwide votes not allocated to any of the four candidates.

Benjamin, who lost badly to McEachin in 2020 and again on Nov. 8, secured the party’s nomination for a third try during a Dec. 17 canvass at Life Christian Academy in Colonial Heights, where voters were asked to rank candidates in order of preference. Former Mecklenburg County School Board Chairman Dale Sturdifen had challenged Benjamin for the Republican nomination, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Benjamin ended up receiving the most votes, according to a Dec. 17 GOP press release.