RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — State Sen. Jennifer McClellan is running to be Richmond’s next Congress member.

With her supporters behind her, including three Richmond City Councilmembers, Sen. McClellan (D-Richmond) announced her bid to fill Virginia’s 4th Congressional District seat Tuesday at the bell tower on Capitol Square.

“This is a bittersweet day for me as I continue to mourn a friend but hear the call to carry on his legacy, carry my servant leadership to Washington,” McClellan said of the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.).

She joined other Democrats running to succeed McEachin, who died on Nov. 28 after winning reelection.

McClellan, an attorney set for her 17th year in the General Assembly, first served in the Virginia House of Delegates before winning the state Senate seat McEachin held before he went to Congress.

She spoke Tuesday about the “big shoes” she had to fill then, saying, if elected, she would continue to press on issues the late congressman advocated for, including environmental justice and reproductive rights.

McClellan highlighted her work in the General Assembly on Tuesday, touting legislation on reproductive rights and implement Virginia’s own Voting Rights Act.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has set a special election for Feb. 21, 2023, to fill McEachin’s seat, giving each party until Dec. 23 to put forward its nominee.

The Democratic Party of Virginia’s 4th Congressional District Committee voted unanimously to hold a Dec. 20 firehouse primary — a primary run by the party — to pick the party’s nominee for the special election.

Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico), former Democratic state delegate Joseph Preston and Tavorise Marks, a civil rights advocate and entrepreneur, announced their runs Monday.

Not long after McClellan said she was running, state Sen. Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) announced his plans to seek the 4th District seat.

Registered voters in the 4th District — who consider themselves a Democrat — will cast ballots for the candidate of their choice during the one-day primary, which will be held at multiple locations across the 4th District.

The voting locations — which will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. — are:

  • Brunswick Conference Center – 100 Athletic Field Rd, Lawrenceville, Virginia 23868
  • Dogtown Dance Studio – 109 W 15th St, Richmond, VA 23224
  • Diversity Richmond – 1407 Sherwood Ave, Richmond, VA 23220
  • IBEW Local 666 – 1390 E Nine Mile Rd, Highland Springs VA 23075
  • Tabernacle Baptist Church – 444 Halifax St, Petersburg, VA 23803

Democrats running for the seat have to submit a $3,480 payment, 150 signatures and candidate paperwork to the 4th District committee by noon on Dec. 16, according to the Democratic Party of Virginia.

During his announcement, Sen. Morrissey accused party leaders of trying to help McClellan when the committee picked the one-day firehouse primary. When asked about the process, McClellan said she would have preferred a nominating process after the holidays but that “it was totally in the governor’s control.”

“So, given the constraints, I think they [4th District committee] did the best they could, and my team and supporters are ready to go no matter when the election is to make sure as many people know about it and can come out and vote as possible,” McClellan told 8News.

McEachin easily won reelection to represent Virginia’s 4th District in Congress, a seat he held since 2017, just a few weeks before his death after a battle with colorectal cancer, according to a press release. His office has vowed to represent the district until a new representative is elected.

Like the rest of the country, Virginia had to redraw its political boundaries using new census data. The Virginia Supreme Court finalized the state’s redistricting process last December, reconfiguring the Commonwealth’s 11 congressional districts for the 2022 midterms.

The city of Richmond still has the largest share of voters in the 4th Congressional District, but the new boundaries moved west to include Brunswick County.

Republicans Leon Benjamin, who lost to McEachin in November, and Dale Sturdifen, a former Mecklenburg County School Board chairman, are running to be the GOP nominees.