Surry voters carry McClellan to victory as Virginia’s first Black congresswoman

Published 11:44 am Wednesday, February 22, 2023

State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, has won her bid to succeed the late U.S. Rep. A. Donald McEachin, making her Virginia’s first Black congresswoman. 

According to unofficial results from the Virginia Department of Elections, McClellan received 74.22% of the 108,797 votes cast in the Feb. 21 special election. The total accounts for 289 of 302 precincts across Virginia’s 4th Congressional District reporting as of 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The 4th District spans from Richmond to the North Carolina border and includes Surry County. In Surry, McClellan received 59.64% of 1,613 votes cast countywide, with only provisional and post-election ballots remaining to be counted.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

McEachin, a Democrat, had been reelected to a two-year term in the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 8 but died Nov. 28 after a nine-year battle with cancer. 

McClellan defeated Republican candidate Leon Benjamin by an even greater margin than McEachin when the late congressman and Benjamin had faced off in November, albeit with a smaller number of total votes.

McEachin had defeated Benjamin last year with 64.92% of 244,978 votes cast districtwide and 1,659 Surry votes – five more than the 1,654 Benjamin had received in Surry.

In a victory speech livestreamed to her campaign Facebook page, McClellan thanked her family, supporters, U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., and former Black legislators who preceded her, among them the late U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm, D-NY, who in 1968 became the first African American congresswoman, the late civil rights activist and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and the late McEachin.

“You helped us make history,” McClellan said.

“We will make this commonwealth and this country a better place for everyone,” McClellan added. “I am ready to get to work.”

Benjamin, on Wednesday afternoon, conceded the race and thanked his family and supporters.

“We are saddened by the results of last night’s election,” Benjamin said in a press release. “While we worked very hard to bring conservative values to the 4th District, we did not prevail in turning the district red. … We will continue to work hard to bring conservative values to the 4th and fight for the American people. I am committed to fighting against tyranny, wokeness, division, and opponents to our Constitution.”

Editor’s note: This story is updated to include comments from Leon Benjamin.