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Virginians choose new Congressional representative in special election

It may not be November, but Tuesday is still an election day in some parts of the state. Voters in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District will be choosing a new representative.

Don McEachin
Steve Helber
U.S. Rep. Don McEachin D-4th. waves during a rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. McEachin died Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, after a battle with colorectal cancer, his office said. He was 61.

The 4th district includes Richmond and Petersburg cities, stretching south to the North Carolina border. Representative Donald McEachin died in November, leaving an empty seat. Wes Bellamy, political science department chair at Virginia State University, says McEachin was a social justice and environmental champion.

“I think of him the most as an individual who literally was willing to put it all on the line when needed, stand up whenever was needed, speak up when needed, and just a great guy,” Bellamy said.

State Senator Jennifer McClellan is the Democrat looking to be McEachin’s successor. McClellan has served in the state legislature for more than 15 years. She’s running on a platform of abortion access, voting rights and environmental justice.

Her opponent is Republican Leon Benjamin, a pastor from Richmond. His platform includes strengthening the border with Mexico, greater funding for police, and restricting abortion access.

Given turnout in the Democratic primary in December, Bellamy predicts relatively high turnout for a special election.

Polls are open Tuesday from 6 am to 7 pm, and voters should go to their regular polling location. You can see if you live in the district and where your polling location is by going to elections.virginia.gov.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Mallory Noe-Payne is Radio IQ's Richmond reporter and bureau chief.