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Rep. Donald McEachin dies at 61

Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., died Monday following a battle with cancer. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI
Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., died Monday following a battle with cancer. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Rep. Donald McEachin, a Virginia Democrat, died Monday following a battle with colorectal cancer, his office said. He was 61 years old.

"Valiantly, for years now, we have watched him fight and triumph over the secondary effects of his colorectal cancer from 2013. Tonight, he lost the battle, and the people of Virginia's Fourth Congressional District lost a hero who always, always fought for them and put them first," Tara Rountree, McEachin's chief of staff, said in a statement.

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McEachin, a champion of climate-related issues, was first elected to Congress in 2016 and overwhelming won re-election to a fourth term earlier this month, beating Republican challenger Len Benjamin Sr. with nearly 65% of the vote to 35%, according to state election results.

Rountree said his office will remain open and serve its constituents until a new representative is elected via a special election, the date for which will be selected by Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

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"It's so sad to learn of the passing of [Rep. McEachin]," the Republican governor said in a statement. "A valiant fighter until the end, he admirably served Virginia & worked tirelessly to improve the lives of his constituents & Americans."

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Son an of Army veteran and a public school teacher, McEachin served as a legislator in both chambers of Virginia's General Assembly before being elected to Congress as the third Black House representative from Virginia.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., praised McEachin for his two decades of public service, during which she said he distinguished himself as a leader on climate and helped to lay the groundwork for the Democrats' last two years of climate-related policies.

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"Congressman McEachin understood that every family -- whether in the East End of Richmond or any community across America -- deserves clean air, clean water and a healthy planet," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on McEachin's passing. "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."

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., praised McEachin in a statement late Monday for being a "relentless champion for all Virginians."

"Donald was a thoughtful and principled legislator and respected by people on both sides of the aisle," Scott said. "Donald was resolute in pushing Virginia to lead the way in climate policy. He was also one of Congress' strongest champions for environmental justice, fighting to ensure that our most vulnerable communities have access to clean air and water.

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"The commonwealth and our nation have lost one of its most dedicated public servants and fiercest advocates for justice and equality."

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., similarly mourned McEachin's death online.

"Up until the very end, Don McEachin was a fighter," Warner tweeted. "Even though he battled cancer and faced other trials in recent years, he never lost focus on social and environmental justice.

"Tonight, Virginia has lost a great leader and I have lost a great friend."

McEachin is survived by his wife, Colette, and their three children.

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Anita Pointer of the Grammy-winning Pointer Sisters stands with Andy Madadian (C) and La Toya Jackson (L) as Madadian is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2020. Pointer, who performed alongside her sisters June and Ruth, died at the age of 74 on December 31 following a battle with cancer. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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