Jennifer McClellan Becomes First Black Woman Elected to Congress in Virginia

Jennifer McClellan Becomes First Black Woman Elected to Congress in Virginia

After a close special election, The Hill reported Jennifer McClellan declared victory as the first Black woman in Congress to represent the 4th Congressional District in Virginia.

With her region spanning from Richmond to the North Carolina border, McClellan defeated Republican opponent, Leon Benjamin, becoming a favorite for her party. She took the seat after Rep. Donald McEachin passed away last November, and won the party’s primary for the seat back in December with 84% of the votes.

McClellan acknowledged the importance of her historic win and recognized what can happen when people work together.

“When we come together and we care more about doing the work and solving the problems than the soundbites and the show, we can help people,” McClellan said, according to CNN.

“We will make this commonwealth and this country a better place for everyone.”

McClellan’s resume speaks for itself.

The Hill reported she was first elected to Virginia’s House of Delegates in 2006 and was later elected to the state Senate in 2017. In 2021, she put her name in for governor of Virginia, however, she came in third place behind Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy and 2021 nominee and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

McClellan’s victory adds to a record number of women in Congress, especially women of color. According to data from the the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, the 50-year-old’s election set a new record for the number of Black women in Congress.

The Petersburg native had some political heavy hitters in her corner, like former House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and James Clyburn (D-SC). The mother of two is looking to bring important issues such as climate change and gun reform to the floor during her term. CNN reported McClellan supported a bill signed by then-Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam to pull back on restrictions on abortion rights in 2020.

She told CNN that the best way to get things done is to simply listen.

“I learned two things. One, you really need to listen and understand why people believe what they believe, where they are coming from,” McClellan said. “And when you do that, sometimes you’ll find common ground.”