Alma Adams and her family on Nov. 4 in Greensboro, N.C. (Wesley Lowery/The Washington Post)

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Democrats eager to learn whether incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan will hold onto her seat received a different kind of welcome news early Tuesday night.

State Rep. Alma Adams was victorious in her special election bid for the vacant 12th Congressional District seat, walloping Republican Vince Coakley in the race to replace Mel Watt, who was appointed by President Obama to head the Federal Housing Financing Agency.

Because Adams was elected in a special election, she will be sworn in immediately, making her the 100th female member of  Congress — the most in U.S. history.

“My friends, we did it,” a triumphant Adams declared as she took the stage with her grandchildren. “And ain’t no stopping us now.”

Her mother always taught her, Adams insisted, about the value of a clean house.

“And so I’m going to Washington to clean the people’s house!”