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Virginia District 4 Congressman Don McEachin dies at 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."

RICHMOND, Va. — Democratic Virginia Rep. Donald McEachin (District 4) has passed away, his office said Monday.

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."

He had been fighting the secondary effects of cancer since 2013, she said.

The statement says until someone new is chosen to fill McEachin's seat, the office will stay open to serve constituents. 

McEachin was first elected to represent Virginia's District 4 in 2016. 

As he was seeking re-election earlier this year, he told 13News Now that he was most proud of passing environmental justice, broadband expansion and replacement of lead pipes legislation, plus the renaming of nine Army bases previously named after Confederate figures from the Civil War.

Mostly, McEachin said he was proud to serve people.

"We believe that our function is to make government work, put aside partisan differences, put aside legislative approaches, and at the end of the day, we want to make sure you get the services you're entitled to out of our federal government," he said. "We'll always be transparent with you. We'll always be honest with you. We'll always give you our best effort."

He won that election this November, less than three weeks ago.

The biography page of his website says in Congress, McEachin served on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

As for filling the vacancy, Youngkin said Tuesday was too early to have a plan for that.

"We will make decisions with regards to the special election. Today, we're really focused on remembering the great contributions he made. And there are folks that I'm going to want to listen to as to the best time in order to call this. I want to make sure that Virginians are represented," he said. "But today's a day to really focus on the Congressman."

Virginians, politicians remember McEachin

McEachin's legacy stretched back years in Virginia and on the national stage, and people from both sides of the aisle have come forward to commemorate his life.

Here's what they said.

President Joe Biden (D):

President Biden weighed in on McEachin's passing Tuesday. 

In a statement, he said: "Jill and I are saddened by the death of Congressman Don McEachin of Virginia, following a battle with cancer. We send our deepest condolences to Don’s wife, Colette, and their three children.

"I got to know Don after he was elected to Congress in 2016. I will always be grateful for his friendship, and his early and fierce support when I ran for President. Don was a fighter. He fought for justice, for civil rights, and for communities that are often left behind. Thanks to Don’s leadership and tireless advocacy, we passed historic legislation to combat the climate crisis and advance environmental justice.

"The son of a school teacher and an Army veteran, public service was in Don’s DNA. After practicing law, he served honorably in both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly, before winning election to the United States Congress. Through it all, Don always fought for the working people of Virginia. He never quit in his pursuit of justice.

"May God bless Don McEachin, Colette, and the entire McEachin family."

Vice President Kamala Harris (D):

"Congressman Donald McEachin was a relentless advocate for his community, a dedicated colleague, and loving husband, father, and grandfather. In Virginia’s General Assembly and the United States Congress, he was tireless in the fight for justice. We were elected to Congress and joined the Congressional Black Caucus the same year, and worked together to advance critical issues on behalf of the American people. I was particularly honored to partner with him on legislation to advance environmental justice and secure a cleaner, healthier, and more fair future for all. I will miss his friendship and his advocacy and passion for improving our world for generations to come.

"The Second Gentleman and I send our condolences and prayers to his wife Colette, their three children, and all those mourning his loss."

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R):

In a tweet, Youngkin called McEachin "A valiant fighter until the end, he admirably served Virginia & worked tirelessly to improve the lives of his constituents & Americans."

Youngkin continued: "Congressman McEachin, was an extraordinary public servant, with over 23 years of service to the Commonwealth and to our nation. And he fought a very tough battle with cancer. And it's a moment for us to pray for his family and remember the tremendous contributions that he made."

Sen. Tim Kaine (D):

In an interview with 13News Now, Kaine vsaid: "Donald was just such a decent human being. He was a very kind person; He's forceful when he needs to be but not a name-caller. Always a good listener. And always a compassionate friend to anyone in need. I think his district is really going to miss him because he was real underdog champion."

Sen. Mark Warner (D):

“Donald and Colette McEachin have been wonderful friends to me and Lisa for more than thirty years. 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.”

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-District 3):

“It was with the deepest sadness that I learned of the passing of my colleague and friend Donald McEachin. Throughout his career of public service in the Virginia House of Delegates, the Senate of Virginia and the U.S. House of Representatives, Donald was a relentless champion for all Virginians and our Commonwealth. He was the son of an Army veteran and a public-school teacher and grew up in the area that he would go on to represent in the Virginia General Assembly and the United States Congress.

Donald was a thoughtful and principled legislator and respected by people on both sides of the aisle. He was also a trail blazing figure in Virginia politics – being the first African-American nominee of a major party for Virginia Attorney General and only the third African-American elected to Congress from Virginia. Donald was resolute in pushing Virginia to lead the way in climate policy. He was also one of Congress’s strongest champions for environmental justice, fighting to ensure that our most vulnerable communities have access to clean air and water. The Commonwealth and our nation have lost one of its most dedicated public servants and fiercest advocates for justice and equality.

I want to offer my deepest condolences to his wife Colette, their three children, his friends, staff and the countless individuals positively impacted by his life.”

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-District 2):

“A dear friend and trusted colleague, Don dedicated his life to public service and made a difference for the people of Virginia in Congress and in the General Assembly. He fought every day for his constituents and the Commonwealth and gave a voice to our most vulnerable citizens.

There is no doubt that Don’s service made Virginia and our country a better place for all, and he will be dearly missed. I am keeping his wife Colette, his family, friends, and staff in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-District 1):

Wittman tweeted: "Congressman Donald McEachin was an incredible leader, colleague and friend. I was fortunate to work with him for many years and to witness his integrity, leadership and public service. Kathryn and I are praying for his family and loved ones as they mourn this incredible loss."

Republican Party of Virginia:

In a statement, the RPV said: "The Republican Party of Virginia expresses its sadness at the passing last night of Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA-04) after a lengthy battle with cancer.

"Cong. McEachin devoted much of his adult life to public service by serving twice in the Virginia House of Delegates (1996-2002 and 2006-2008), being elected three times to the Senate of Virginia (2008-2017), serving as the 2001 Democratic Party nominee for Attorney General of Virginia, and being elected four times to represent Virginia’s 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"RPV Chairman Rich Anderson expressed condolences on behalf of the Republican Party of Virginia and stated that 'I served with then-State Senator McEachin in the General Assembly and know first-hand that he lived a life of service to our Commonwealth. Tonight, we honor his memory and lift up his family in prayer at this difficult time.'"

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