Virginia Congressman Dies from Cancer Weeks After Winning Reelection

'Tonight, Virginia has lost a great leader and I have lost a great friend' tweeted a Virginia senator

United States Representative A. Donald McEachin died on Nov. 28 at the age of 61 after a battle with colorectal cancer.

McEachin was re-elected to his federal office just three weeks before his death. His seat’s vacancy necessitates a special election on the eve of the next Congress. 

McEachin, a Democrat, was first elected in 2016 and represented the 4th Congressional District of Virginia, an area extending from part of Richmond toward North Carolina.

A graduate of American University and the University of Virginia’s law school, McEachin worked as a lawyer before serving in his state’s House of Delegates between 1996 and 2002 and then again from 2006 to 2008. He was also a state senator from 2008-2016.

He is survived by his wife, Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin. The couple had three children, per AP News

“We are all devastated at the passing of our boss and friend, Congressman Donald McEachin,” said Tara Rountree, McEachin’s chief of staff, in a statement. “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.”

Rountree added that the late congressman’s office would stay open until a new representative is elected. 

Up until the very end, Don McEachin was a fighter. Even though he battled cancer and faced other trials in recent years, he never lost his focus on social and environmental justice,” said Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia on Twitter. “Tonight, Virginia has lost a great leader and I have lost a great friend.”

On Nov. 21, McEachin’s office released a statement saying he was leading a “Democratic delegation in urging [the] general assembly to enshrine [the] right to an abortion in Virginia Constitution.”

At the time of his death, McEachin was a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the Natural Resources Committee,” reports NBC News.

During midterm elections, Republicans took control of the House of Representatives by a narrow margin – claiming 221 seats to the Democrats’ 213. Either party needs to hold 218 seats to control the chamber which allows them to elect the Speaker of the House and set the legislative agenda. 

I congratulate Leader McCarthy on Republicans winning the House majority, and am ready to work with House Republicans to deliver results for working families,” President Joe Biden said in a statement once the chamber was called in the Republican Party’s favor, per CBS News. “The American people want us to get things done for them. …  I will work with anyone — Republican or Democrat — willing to work with me to deliver results for them.”

McEachin’s death presents another chance for Republicans to flip a seat held by a Democrat during the upcoming 118th Congress.

Six Representatives elected to the 117th congress died while in office – Republicans Luke Letlow of Louisana, Ron Wright of Texas, Alcee Hastings of Florida, Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota, Jackie Walorski of Indiana, and Don Young of Alaska. 

Following special elections, four Republicans held the seats while two seats went to Democrats.

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