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Joe Morrissey Makes Political Comeback, Ousts Dance In Senate Primary

Controversial political figure and former state delegate Joe Morrissey has won the Democratic Primary election in Virginia’s 16th Senate District-ousting incumbent Rosalyn Dance
Joe Morrissey and wife Myrna celebrate Morrissey's victory Whittney Evans/WCVE

Controversial political figure and former state delegate Joe Morrissey won the Democratic Primary in Virginia’s 16th Senate District by a sizeable lead.

Morrissey’s political career may have been overshadowed by past legal troubles, but that didn’t seem to matter to voters on Tuesday. He led Dance by 12 percentage points district-wide,and swept Petersburg with 71 percent of the vote.

He said his campaign strategy was to go to his opponents turf, Dance’s hometown of Petersburg, and appeal to residents there by making local issues like blight, high water bills and potholes his concern.

“They’d say ‘Joe we have storm water runoff. It’s not getting done’. I would call VDOT. Meet them down there. Sure, I could have said talk to your Board of Supervisors. That’s not the way I role,” Morrissey said. “I talked about the issues they’re facing and that resonated with them.”

Morrissey resigned from the House of Delegates under pressure in 2014 after he was convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for having sex with his then 17-year-old receptionist who is now his wife and the mother of three of his children.  

“They are my heart. Our home, it’s filled with lots of love and laughter,” Morrissey said. “I apologize for none of the scandal. There was no embarrassment. Get used to it.”

The Virginia State Bar revoked Morrissey’s law licence last year in connection with that conviction. He’s since asked the Virginia Supreme Court to reverse that decision. Justices heard his appeal in April.

Dance conceded the race less than an hour after the polls closed at 7pm.

“Petersburg is my home. And If your home is not with you, then the battle’s over,” she said.

Dance was elected to the state Senate in 2014.

Morrissey will likely not face an opponent in the November election as Republicans have not offered a nominee. The district includes parts of Richmond, Chesterfield and all of Petersburg. It heavily favors Democrats.





Whittney Evans is VPM News’ features editor.
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