Jennifer McClellan makes history as the first Black woman elected to Congress in Virginia


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By Zoe Richards, NBC News

Virginia Congresswoman, Jennifer Mcclellan
State Sen. Jennifer McClellan at a canvassing event in Richmond, Va., on Dec. 17, 2023. Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP file

Democrat Jennifer McClellan has made history as the first Black woman elected to represent Virginia in Congress, NBC News projected Tuesday.

McClellan, a state senator, defeated Republican Leon Benjamin in Tuesday’s special election in the 4th Congressional District. She will fill the seat of Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin, who died from cancer shortly after he won re-election in November. 

“It still blows my mind that we’re having firsts in 2023,” McClellan said in an interview. “My ancestors fought really hard to have a seat at that table, and now not only will I have a seat at the table in Congress; I’ll be able to bring that policymaking table into communities that never really had a voice before…”

McClellan will join 29 other Black women in the House. There are no Black women in the Senate.

“I feel a responsibility to ensure I’m not the last,” she said…

McClellan served 11 years in the House of Delegates and has been a member of the state Senate since 2017. She ran for governor in 2021, losing in a five-person primary to Terry McAuliffe, who ultimately lost to Republican Glenn Youngkin.

McClellan’s campaign focused on her legislative victories, highlighting efforts to protect voting rights and domestic workers — issues that resonated with her family’s experiences and that she said helped shape her policy views.

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