Democrat House member from Virginia dead at 61, impact on new Congress explained

U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., passed away on Monday at the age of 61 following a long battle with colorectal cancer.

McEachin was just re-elected to the House for a fourth term earlier this month and the congressman’s chief of staff, Tara Rountree, released a statement Monday night announcing his death.

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

McEachin was the third-ever African American to represent Virginia in the U.S. House, according to Fox News. He is survived by his wife Colette and their three children.

His death means the new Congress will begin with a vacancy until there is a special election to fill that seat, as the network noted that the seat cannot be filled by an appointment.

“McEachin’s untimely death does not give some breathing room to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in his quest to become Speaker,” Fox News further reported. “The new Congress will begin with 434 members. The magic number for McCarthy continues to be 218 – an outright majority of the entire body.”

It appears that somewhat embarrassingly, the Associated Press shared the wrong photo when reporting on McEachin’s death.

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U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., released a statement Monday on the death of McEachin, whom he called a “wonderful friend.”

“Donald and Colette McEachin have been wonderful friends to me and Lisa for more than thirty years,” Warner wrote. “We often bonded over stories and laughs about our mutual challenges raising families with three strong-willed daughters. 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.”

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