Joe Morrissey wins Virginia General Assembly seat from jail

Sarah King
News Editor

Voters gave the state slogan “Virginia is for lovers,” a whole new meaning Tuesday night when the 42nd district re-elected a 57-year-old man serving time for sleeping with a then-17-year-old receptionist at his law office.

Henrico county voters re-elected delegate “Fightin” Joe Morrissey, a Democrat turned Independent, to the Virginia General Assembly Tuesday night while serving time for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

News broke last summer that the father of three children by three different women was now sleeping with an underage receptionist at his law firm.

Last month, Morrissey entered an Alford plea to a misdemeanor charge, meaning Morrissey admitted no wrongdoing, but maintained there was enough evidence to be prosecuted. The courts treat the bargain as a guilty plea.

Consequently, the politician was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was sentenced to twelve months in jail with six months suspended.

Morrissey managed to evade being registered in the sex offender list and also acquired a work-lease agreement. In other words: the courts have allowed him to work during the day and report to jail at night.

On Dec. 12, 2014, days before his sentencing, Morrissey’s office announced he would continue to run in the re-election in 2015.

This gave his competitors about a month to campaign for the re-election.

“Let’s let the voters decide, and I am looking forward to their verdict,” said Morrissey after the announcement on Dec. 18. “But it’s not the political pundits, it’s not legislators, it’s not I who should decide whether or not I stay or go. It’s the voters of the 74th House District.”

It was from inside a jail cell on Tuesday that Morrissey reclaimed his General Assembly seat, having won 42 percent of the vote in his district. Of the more than 205,000 registered voters, 2,840 people voted for him—which was more than enough to win over his Republican and Democratic competitors.

Morrissey’s victory may have concluded chapter two in the nail-biting 2015 Virginia political saga.

On Jan. 6, former Gov. Bob McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison on 11 felony charges of federal corruption.

“Like many Virginians, I am saddened by the effect this trial has had on our Commonwealth’s reputation for clean, effective government,” said current Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a statement on Tuesday after McDonnell’s sentencing.

It seems that McAuliffe’s words ring hollow now that the constituents voted another jailbird into office just a week later.

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