Democrats are beginning to consolidate their support in the special election campaign to fill a vacant House seat in Virginia.
Lamont Bagby (D) announced Thursday he is dropping his bid for the 4th Congressional District and endorsing fellow state legislator Jennifer McClellan (D), whose main Democratic competition is now state legislator Joe Morrissey.
Bagby said in a statement he made the move to avoid splitting the Democratic vote and paving the way for a Republican upset in a special election Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) set for Feb. 21.
“I made this decision because I believe it’s in the best interests of the voters of this district to step aside and ensure we have the right representation in Congress,” Bagby said. His decision is critical given the narrow margin separating the incoming Republican majority and Democratic majority in the House in the 118th Congress.
House Republicans are set to take control of the chamber with an advantage of roughly a handful of seats. Gaining even one would be a welcome cushion in what is sure to be a herculean effort to reach consensus and govern.
Conversely, the Democrats retaining this House seat will enable them to maximize pressure on the Republicans.
Southeastern Virginia’s 4th Congressional District opened unexpectedly late last month when Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) died.
The seat is solidly Democratic.
But special elections can attract uncertain turnout that is inclined to vote against the party that occupies the White House. Multiple Democrats running might have divided the liberal vote and provided Republicans with an unlikely opportunity to pick up a seat.