Virginia congressman Donald McEachin dies weeks after reelection

Virginia congressman Donald McEachin has died at the age of 61 following a battle with cancer – just weeks after he sailed to victory in the midterm elections.

The Democrat’s Chief of Staff Tara Rountree announced that he had passed away on Monday evening in a statement shared on social media.

Ms Rountree said that the 61-year-old had been experiencing “secondary effects of his colorectal cancer from 2013” as she paid tribute to the “hero” “boss” and “friend.

“We are all devastated at the passing of our boss and friend, Congressman Donald McEachin,” she said.

“Valiantly, for years now, we have watched him fight and triumph over the secondary effects of his colorectal cancer from 2013.

“Tonight, he lost that battle, and the people of Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District lost a hero who always, always fought for them and put them first.”

Ms Rountree said that the lawmaker’s family is asking for privacy at this time, with arrangements to “be announced over the next few days”.

His office will remain open and continue to serve constituents until a new representative is elected to his seat representing Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District, the statement added.

McEachin was reelected to his fourth term earlier this month, beating Republican challenger Leon Benjamin Sr with around 64 per cent of the votes.

The Democrat has held the seat, which includes the state capital of Richmond, since 2016.

He was also a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the Natural Resources Committee at the time of his death.

Prior to being elected to Congress, McEachin worked as a lawyer and state lawmaker.

A special session is now expected to be called to elect a congress member to fill his now-vacant seat.

Tributes poured in from other lawmakers as news of his death spread.

Donald McEachin passed away on Monday at the age of 61 (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Donald McEachin passed away on Monday at the age of 61 (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the 61-year-old “ a tireless champion for Virginia families” in a statement on Monday night.

“It is with great sadness that I join Virginians tonight in mourning the loss of Congressman Donald McEachin: a tireless champion for Virginia families and a force for economic opportunity and environmental justice,” she said.

“He will be deeply missed by his colleagues, and he leaves behind a legacy that will improve the lives of all of our children for generations to come.”

Rep. Bobby Scott, a fellow Democrat and Virginia lawmaker, called McEachin “one of its most dedicated public servants and fiercest advocates for justice and equality” who was “respected by people on both sides of the aisle”.

Republican Rep. Bob Good also paid tribute to him for his “kindness” throughout their time working together in Congress.

“It is with sadness that I would like to express my condolences to the McEachin family at the passing of my colleague, Rep. Donald McEachin,” he said.

“I am grateful for the kindness he showed me during the two years we served together. My prayers are with his family.”