Virginia Republicans on Saturday picked Leon Benjamin as their nominee for the Feb. 21 special election to fill the 4th Congressional District seat of the late U.S. Rep. A. Donald McEachin, the state party said in a news release.
Benjamin, a Richmond native, pastor and Navy veteran who twice previously unsuccessfully challenged McEachin, was nominated through a process in which voters ranked three candidates in order of preference.
He defeated Dale Sturdifen and Derrick Hollie. Sturdifen is a Marine veteran, former state trooper and congressional staffer. Hollie is a podcast host who runs an advocacy organization called Reaching America.
Benjamin faces an uphill climb in the Special Election given the solidly Democratic makeup of the 4th District, which has its population center in Richmond and stretches south to the North Carolina border.
Democrats are picking their nominee on Tuesday. State Sen. Jennifer McClellan has locked up support from the Virginia Democratic Party establishment. Also in the race are state Sen. Joe Morrissey, a controversial figure with a history of winning difficult races; former Del. Joseph Preston; and civil rights advocate Tavorise Marks.
McEachin was elected to his first term to the U.S. House in 2016 after serving in the General Assembly. He died last month at age 61 of what his staff said were complications from his long-running fight against colorectal cancer.
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.