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Rep. Donald McEachin Dead at 61

Virginia Democrat Donald McEachin, who was just reelected to a fourth term in the House of Representatives, battled cancer throughout his Washington career. The disease finally overtook him yesterday, just a few weeks after his 61st birthday.

McEachin led a very interesting life. He was born in Nuremberg, in what was then West Germany, and he lived in several places around the world as his father's military postings dictated. He returned to the United States for college, and got an undergraduate degree in political history and then postgraduate degrees in both law and divinity. Thereafter, during the regular week he ran his successful law practice and on Sundays he preached.

McEachin made his move into politics in 1995, serving three terms in the Virginia House, and then became the first Black man to run for Virginia AG (he lost). He regained his state House seat in 2005, and then spent 8 years in the Virginia state Senate before running for and winning the U.S. House seat representing VA-04. During his term of service in the House, the Representative made national headlines with his aggressive gun control views. When various towns and counties in Virginia adopted resolutions in 2019 declaring themselves to be Second Amendment sanctuaries, where the state's gun laws would not be enforced, McEachin suggested that then-Gov. Ralph Northam send the Virginia National Guard in to start confiscating guns. The Governor did not take the Representative's advice.

Sometime next year, an election will be held to determine McEachin's replacement. The district is D+10, and the majority of the Democrats who make it so are Black. So, the next person to represent VA-04 figures to be another Black Democrat. But until then, there is one fewer person to vote on things like Speaker of the House. If all 434 members show up and cast votes, then it would still take 218 votes to get over the top. But the absence of the VA-04 vote means that if one representative misses work, or one representative votes "present," then the hill becomes one vote easier for Kevin McCarthy to climb. This sort of vulgar math will be performed anytime a representative passes away in the next two years.

McEachin's last public appearance was at a screening of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. That is a movie that is very clearly missing actor Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020 of the same type of cancer (colorectal) that claimed the Representative's life. Speaking to reporters after, McEachin urged people to get preventative cancer screenings. That's good advice; the CDC has information and resources right here. (Z)

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