Youngkin calls a special election to fill the seat of the late Rep. McEachin


Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has called a special election to fill the 4th Congressional District seat of Rep. A. Donald McEachin, who died Nov. 28 after a long battle with the aftereffects of colorectal cancer treatment.

The special election will be held on February 21, giving potential candidates over two months to campaign. The deadline for applicants to submit documents is December 23.

Del. Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico) and state Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond), who ran for governor last year, have filed to run for the seat; Bagby is expected to formally announce his campaign later Monday.

Given that they are each the top two leaders of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus — Bagby the chairman and McClellan the vice chairman — their likely candidacies could spark a heated rivalry in the dark blue, majority-minority 4th District, which extending from Richmond to the North Carolina border.

Joseph Preston, an attorney, also announced his campaign for the seat on Monday. Preston served one year in the House of Delegates in 2015 after winning a special election to fill the seat of Rosalynn Dance, who was elected to the state Senate. Just months into her House term, Preston decided to challenge Dance in a primary for her Senate seat, which she lost.

The 4th district the seat is expected to remain safely Democratic; three weeks before he died, McEachin won a fourth term with a 30-point lead over Republican challenger Leon Benjamin.

McEachin, who served in both the Virginia House of Delegates and the state House Senate during his political career, was first elected to Congress in 2016. During his tenure, the attorney and ordained minister built a reputation as a fierce advocate for civil rights and environmental justice, paying close attention to how climate change and pollutants disproportionately affect disadvantaged or minority communities.

He was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 and developed further complications from treatment in 2018.

Begbie describes him as a mentor.

“Donald McEachin spent his entire career building an incredible legacy for this community that we will never forget. I wouldn’t be here without him. Tomorrow I will tell you how I plan to help build on the McEachin legacy for the next generation,” Bagby wrote Sunday on Twitterteasing his campaign announcement.

McClellan took McEachin’s seat in the state Senate when he was elected to Congress and noted in a statement after his death that they had been friends for more than 20 years.

Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.

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