Democrats in Richmond-based congressional districts are voting Tuesday to select candidates for the seat held by the late Donald McKeechin.
The party holds primaries in eight polling places throughout the state’s fourth congressional district.
The winner will be a big favorite in the Feb. 21 special election in a district traditionally favored by Democrats.
Four candidates are on the ballot: state senators Jennifer McClellan and Joe Morrissey, former Congressman Joseph Preston, and civil rights advocate Taborice Marks.
The founding of the party was united around McClellan, who had the majority of his support. One of his leading candidates, Del Lamont Bagby, withdrew from the race in favor of McClellan.
Establishment Democrats didn’t want to see McClellan and Bagby split the vote and make way for populist and former prosecutor turned defense attorney Morrissey.
A 49-year-old corporate attorney, McClellan has represented portions of the Richmond area at the General Assembly since 2006. She ran for governor in her 2021, but she lost to Terry McAuliffe in the Democratic primary.
If she wins in February, she will become the first black woman to represent Virginia.
Polling places for party-run primaries are different from the locations voters use in the November election.Voting hours are 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
No winner will be declared on Tuesday night. Party officials won’t start counting votes until Wednesday morning.
The winner will face Republican Leon Benjamin in February. Republicans have chosen Benjamin, a pastor and Navy veteran from Richmond, as the weekend’s nominee.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin called for a special election after McKeatin died on November 28 from a battle with colon cancer.
District 4 is based in Richmond and extends south to the North Carolina state line.
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