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Virginia Representative Donald McEachin dies at 61

McEachin, whose district was based in Richmond, the state capital, won re-election earlier this month with 64% of the vote against Republican challenger Leon Benjamin. He was first elected to Congress in 2016 after serving in the Virginia Senate and the House of Delegates.

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

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

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

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

“Until the very end, Don McEachin was a fighter,” he said. “Even though he has battled cancer and faced other hardships in recent years, he has never lost his interest in social and environmental justice. Tonight Virginia lost a great leader and I lost a great friend.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) remembers his long relationship with McEachin.

“I met Donald McEachin in 1985 and we quickly became 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 father, a proud husband, a faithful brother.”

Aston Donald McEachin was born on October 10, 1961 in Nuremberg, Germany, where his father was serving in the military. He was a lawyer who graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law and also earned a Master of Divinity degree from Virginia Union University.

representing 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 major-party African-American nominee for Attorney General of Virginia.”

Representative Gerry Connolly also celebrated his fellow Democrat from Virginia.

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

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

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

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