Rep. Donald McEachin, a Democrat representing Virginia’s 4th Congressional District since 2017, died Monday night after a battle with colorectal cancer, according to his office. He was 61.
McEachin’s chief of staff, Tara Rountree, said in a statement the congressman had been experiencing “secondary effects of his colorectal cancer from 2013.”
“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.
Rountree said that McEachin’s office “will remain open and continue to serve our constituents” until a new individual is elected to lead the district.
“The family asks for privacy at this time. Arrangements will be announced over the next few days,” she added.
The Virginia Democrat underwent two surgeries in August 2019 following “ongoing complications” linked to the chemotherapy and radiation he received to help treat his cancer, according to ABC 8News. He spent time outside Washington for roughly three months to recover from the operations, the Virginia Mercury reported.
McEachin was first elected to the House in 2016 and went on to win reelection in 2018, 2020 and, most recently, earlier this month. Constituents in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District elected him with roughly 64 percent of the vote in this year’s midterm elections.
During his time in Congress, McEachin emerged as a leading voice on issues like environmental inequalities that low-income communities and communities of color face. At the time of his death, he sat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Natural Resources Committee and Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
He was also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the centrist New Democrat Coalition, the largest Democratic caucus in the House that is dedicated to fiscally responsible and pro-innovation policies.
Before coming to Congress, McEachin served in both the Virginia state Senate and House of Delegates. He was born in Nuremberg, Germany, on Oct. 10, 1961, and went on to graduate from American University and the University of Virginia School of Law.
McEachin is the fourth House lawmaker to die this year while serving in office. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) died in a car accident over the summer, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) died in March and Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.) died of kidney cancer in February.
Condolences poured in for McEachin from colleagues — of both parties and from both chambers of Congress — after news broke of his death.
“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,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote in a statement Monday night.
“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,” she added.
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) called McEachin “a thoughtful and principled legislator” who was “respected by people on both sides of the aisle.”
“The Commonwealth and our nation have lost one of its most dedicated public servants and fiercest advocates for justice and equality,” he said in a statement.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) called McEachin “a fighter.”
“Up until the very end, Don McEachin was a fighter,” Warner wrote on Twitter. “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,” he added.
Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) also expressed sadness at the news of McEachin’s death.
“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 wrote on Twitter. “I am grateful for the kindness he showed me during the two years we served together. My prayers are with his family.”
Updated at 11:53 p.m.