© Reuters

By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) – Voters in Virginia’s fourth U.S. House of Representatives district go to the polls on Tuesday for a special election in which Democratic state Senator Jennifer McClellan is favored to win, a victory that would make her the first Black congresswoman from the state.

“It blows my mind that we’re still having firsts in 2023, but I’m very honored,” she told ABC News last week.

The special election is to fill a vacancy created by the November death of Representative Don McEachin, a Democrat who won re-election to what would have been a fourth term by a 65%-35% margin over Republican challenger Leon Benjamin.

McClellan is a former corporate lawyer for whom McEachin was a mentor. A victory for his seat by the Democrat would restore the narrow margin Republicans had claimed after the November midterms.

Her main issues in Congress would be cost of living, affordable healthcare and voting rights, she said.

Benjamin, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, is running against her. The race is Benjamin’s third attempt to capture the district, after refusing to concede in 2020 and 2022.

“Not to be cliche, but third time’s the charm,” he told news outlet Axios last week.

The district stretches from the capital of Richmond to the state’s southern border, and is considered safely Democratic by analysts.

A McClellan win would leave Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy with a nine-seat majority, 222-213.

Polls close at 7 p.m. EST (2400 GMT) on Tuesday.

McEachin died after battling cancer on Nov. 28, less than three weeks after the Nov. 8 elections, before the new Congress was sworn in on Jan. 3.

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