Politics

Representative Donald McEachin, Virginia Democrat, Dies at 61

WASHINGTON — Representative A. Donald McEachin, Democrat of Virginia, died on Monday after a battle with colorectal cancer, his office said.

“Valiantly, for years now, we have watched him fight and triumph over the secondary effects of his colorectal cancer from 2013,” Tara Rountree, the chief of staff for Mr. McEachin, said in a statement shared on social media. “Tonight, he lost that battle.”

Mr. McEachin, 61, had represented Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District, which encompasses Richmond and a southern slice of the state, since 2017, and had been overwhelmingly re-elected this month. His office said on Monday that it would remain open until a new representative had been chosen.

“Congressman McEachin understood that every family — whether in the East End of Richmond or any community across America — deserves clean air, clean water and a healthy planet,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California. “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.”

Mr. McEachin, the son of a public-school teacher and an Army veteran, was a member of the HouseCommittee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Natural Resources, according to his House biography. While in Congress, Mr. McEachin, a former state legislator and lawyer, pushed for legislation to address the effects of climate change and championed other Democratic priorities like addressing gun violence and ensuring access to health care.

His death leaves his party’s narrow House majority even thinner as Democrats embark on a final push to advance their priorities in the lame-duck session before handing over power to the Republicans in January.

But on Monday night, lawmakers reflected on Mr. McEachin’s personal qualities. In the Virginia delegation, several of his colleagues mentioned their friendship with Mr. McEachin and his wife, Colette.

“Had it not been for Donald, I would not be in Congress today,Representative Jennifer Wexton, Democrat of Virginia, said in a statement, noting that he had encouraged her to seek office before the 2018 election. “For his words of inspiration and belief in me, I am forever grateful.”

Representative Robert C. Scott, Democrat of Virginia, described Mr. McEachin as a “thoughtful and principled legislator.”

Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, said in a statement on Monday that the two families often “bonded over stories and laughs about our mutual challenges raising families with three strong-willed daughters,” while Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, called him “a gentle giant, a compassionate champion for underdogs, a climate warrior, a Christian example, an understanding dad, a proud husband, a loyal brother.”

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