Rep. Donald McEachin. Official portrait.
Rep. Donald McEachin. Official portrait.

Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Richmond, has died, according to his office. He was 61.

A statement from his chief of staff, Tara Rountree, said:

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

“Until a new representative is elected, our office will remain open and continue to serve our constituents.

“The family asks for privacy at this time. Arrangements will be announced over the next few days.”

McEachin, a Richmond lawyer, served in the House of Delegates and the state Senate, before behing elected to the U.S. House in 2016. His present district, to which he was re-elected earlier this month with 64.9% of the vote, reached from Henrico County to the North Carolina line in eastern Southside Virginia.

McEachin was the Democratic candidate for attorney general in 2001. He lost to Republican Jerry Kilgore, while ticketmates Mark Warner and Tim Kaine won their races for governor and lieutenant governor.

Tributes to McEachin that came in Monday night included ones from:

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Virginia: “Up until the very end, Don 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. Tonight, Virginia has lost a great leader and I have lost a great friend.”

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia: “I met Donald McEachin in 1985 and we became fast friends. Anne and I went to the Richmond party celebrating his marriage to Colette. Our kids were the same age, we shared a statewide ticket with Mark Warner, and we’ve been together in the Virginia federal delegation for years. I was last with him on election night three weeks ago, celebrating his win. He was a gentle giant, a compassionate champion for underdogs, a climate warrior, a Christian example, an understanding dad, a proud husband, a loyal brother. ‘Teach us how short our life is, so that we may become wise.’ Psalm 90:12.”

A special election will be necessary to fill the 4th Congressional District seat. The Virginia Public Access Project rates it as 61% Democratic in the 2021 gubernatorial election. Demographically, the district is 43% white and 41% Black.

The 4th Congressional District. Courtesy of Virginia Supreme Court.