Dem 51
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GOP 49
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The Lord Giveth a Congressperson, and He Taketh Away a Congressperson

Or, if you would prefer a less theistic headline: Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Wisconsinites weren't the only people to head to the polls yesterday. The good people of VA-04 also cast ballots in the runoff election to replace Rep. Donald McEachin (D), who passed away shortly after winning reelection last year. Turnout was relatively low, and so there's been more than enough time to count the votes. And your winner is Rep.-elect Jennifer McClellan (D), who trounced Republican Leon Benjamin, 74.2% to 25.7%, with 95% reporting.

The result was not a surprise, except perhaps in the extent of the thrashing. The district is D+16, which should translate into a result of something like 60% to 40%. So, McClellan overperformed by a little bit. Benjamin ran as centrist a campaign as is possible, given his party identification, but clearly it didn't do him much good. Presumably he will go back to being a pastor and businessman now.

McClellan is the 430th person Virginia has elected to the House of Representatives. Four of those 430 were/are Black, including one member who served during Reconstruction (John Mercer Langston), the late McEachin, current dean of the Virginia delegation Bobby Scott (D), and now McClellan. That is less than 1%. McClellan is also the first Black woman to represent Virginia in the House. That is less than 0.25%. Her win is being called historic, and we would say that's on the mark. One more Black representative, and it will equal the number of people named George Washington who have represented Virginia in the House (George Washington Booker, George Washington Crump, George Washington Hopkins, George Washington Summers and George Washington Thompson).

When McClellan is sworn in, probably next week, then the Democrats will have 213 votes in the House. Not that it matters all that much right now; Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) isn't exactly working hard to get legislation passed at the moment. It could matter in June, when the debt ceiling stuff will presumably heat up, and the Democrats will drop back down to 212 votes.

Why is that? Well, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) chose the day of McClellan's victory to announce that he will resign at the end of May, so that he can go run the Rhode Island Foundation, a charitable foundation funded by old Rhode Island money, with an endowment of $1.3 billion. Maybe Cicilline thinks he can do more good there. Maybe he wants a fatter paycheck. Maybe he burned a few too many bridges when he challenged Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) for the post of House Assistant Democratic Leader. Whatever it is, Cicilline's out.

Rhode Island law is not especially strict on timelines for special elections, excepting that it makes very clear that no election can be scheduled until the seat is actually vacant. So, Gov. Dan McKee (D) will have to wait until late May or June, and then at that point it's pretty much up to his discretion. That said, even if the election has not been formally called, there's plenty of time for wannabe members of Congress to jockey for position. The Democratic bench in the Ocean State is deep, and there are at least a dozen members of the blue team who have signaled some level of interest in running. No surprise, since Cicilline's district, RI-01, is D+12.

The Republican bench is considerably less deep, and there are thus far no members of the red team who have hinted at a run. The obvious name on this side of the aisle is Allen Fung, the former mayor of Cranston, RI. However, he's lost two gubernatorial elections and one House election already (the latter in 2022, by 5 points), and he doesn't actually live in RI-01. The state is small enough that maybe the people of RI-01 would not be bothered by that. But maybe they would be. We don't know. (Z)

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