Virginia congressman Donald McEachin dies at 61

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Rep. Donald McEachin, a Virginia Democrat recently elected to a fourth term in Congress, died Monday after nearly a decade with cancer. He was 61.

McEachin was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2013, his chief of staff, Tara Rountree, said in a statement Monday.

“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.”

The White House said Tuesday that it would lower its flags to half-staff in his memory.

McEachin's death comes as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are expected to rely on securing every vote possible in the next Congress, when Republicans will control the House by a slim margin.

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.

He represented a district that included Richmond, Chesapeake and Hampton Roads. Before he was elected to Congress in 2016, he worked as a lawyer and a state lawmaker.

He won re-election in November by nearly 30 percentage points, underscoring the Democratic leanings of the deep blue district.

Growing up, McEachin was an Army brat who spent the first several years of his life in Europe before his family moved to Richmond when he was in the third grade, according to a profile published by the University of Virginia, where he graduated from law school in 1986.

McEachin also earned a master of divinity degree from Virginia Union University, in 2008.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who said he met McEachin in 1985, recalled him Monday as 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,” Kaine said, citing a verse from the Book of Psalms.

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