Jennifer McClellan has made history as the first Black woman to represent the state of Virginia in Congress, reports ABC News.
McClellan, who currently serves as a state senator, was the projected winner defeating Republican challenger Leon Benjamin on Tuesday in a special election for Virginia's 4th Congressional District, to fill the seat left by Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin who passed away in November.
Per the results of the Virginia Department of Elections, McClellan had received almost 75% of the votes with 289 of the 302 precincts in the district reporting on the night of the election.
In her victory speech, McClellan said she was committed to making the Commonwealth more equal for all of its residents.
“We will make this Commonwealth and this country a better place for everyone,” she said to her supporters. “I am ready to get to work. I have a little work to do down the street, but when we are done, I am ready to fight for you in Congress for as long as you will have me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
Viewed as a favorite in the heavily Democratic district, McClellan touted endorsements from former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., and the entire Democratic congressional delegation of Virginia. She ran on a platform that included access to abortion, voting rights and protecting the environment.
Although the Republicans still hold a slim majority in the House of Representatives, McClellan believes her background in the state legislature and in the corporate world has uniquely positioned her to be an effective congresswoman.
"The first step is listening," she said. "Focusing on solving problems, finding common ground where you can't and if you can't [find] it, then just pushing forward for what's best for your constituents and the country."
Before her election to Congress, McClellan began serving in the House of Delegates representing Richmond in 2005. When McEachin was elected to Congress in 2016, McClellan was elected to serve in his former Senate seat where she was named Vice Chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.
She's a graduate of the University of Richmond with a BA and earned a JD from the University of Virginia.
When McClellan is sworn in office, she will become the 28th Black woman in Congress, the most in the history of the United States.