Virginia Rep. Donald McEachin dies at 61

McEachin, whose district was based in Richmond, the state capital, was reelected earlier this month with 64 percent of the vote against Republican challenger Leon Benjamin. He had been first elected to Congress in 2016 after serving in both the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates.

“We don’t do this for glory or fame, we do this because we like service,” McEachin said on election night earlier this month.

McEachin was one of 213 Democrats elected to the next Congress, compared with 220 Republicans. Two races are still to be determined.

His replacement in the heavily Democratic district will be determined by special election, at a date to be chosen by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican. In a statement Monday night, Youngkin said McEachin “worked tirelessly to improve the lives of his constituents.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) paid tribute to McEachin on Twitter.

“Up until the very end, Don McEachin was a fighter,” he said. “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.”

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) remembered his long connection to McEachin.

“I met Donald McEachin in 1985 and we became fast friends,” he said in a statement.

Kaine added: “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.”

Aston Donald McEachin was born Oct. 10, 1961, in Nuremberg, Germany, where his father was serving in the Army. He was a lawyer with a degree from the University of Virginia Law School and also earned a master of divinity from Virginia Union university.

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the second African American elected to the House from Virginia, noted that McEachin was the third, as well as “the first African-American nominee of a major party for Virginia Attorney General.”

Rep. Gerry Connolly also celebrated his fellow Virginia Democrat.

“A noble friend, husband, and father,” he said of McEachin. “An environmentalist, civil rights advocate, faithful public servant, and a man of consequence. There was no better ally to have. I will miss him terribly.”

At a screening of the movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” in Richmond two weeks ago, McEachin discussed his battle with cancer.

“I can’t stress to you enough the importance of early detection,” McEachin said. “I know many of you have watched my journey, and I’ve had a number of health issues.”