After announcing he was dropping his bid for mayor of Richmond Wednesday, City Councilman Jon Baliles asked his supporters to join him in consolidating support around his former opponent, Levar Stoney.
“I hope you will join me in choosing to advance Richmond to the next level with Levar, who is up to the challenge,” Baliles stated in a Facebook post Saturday. “He can lead the way to a brighter future and make Richmond work – for all of us.”
Baliles, who placed fourth in a poll conducted by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce last month, said in his statement that the stakes were too high for him to stay in the race and split the vote among other candidates like Jack Berry, who placed second in the same poll with 17 percent behind former Delegate Joe Morrissey who had 20 percent of the vote. Stoney placed third with 15 percent of respondents saying he was their choice.
“Jon Baliles has a breadth and depth of experience in city government and a true understanding of how City Hall works. Throughout his career, he has always put Richmond first,” Stoney said in a statement. “I am honored to have the endorsement of someone who is so keenly focused on making sure our city continues moving forward.”
Prior to receiving the endorsement, Stoney told Richmond Magazine it would be the “biggest of the election.”
In Baliles’ announcement Wednesday, he made clear that he was dropping out to help block Morrissey’s path to victory .
“While there are other candidates who can ably fill the mayor’s job duties, there is one who simply cannot,” Baliles said. “That is the controversial and divisive candidate who has received national and international negative attention. Regrettably, that candidate’s selfishness and stunts only grow with the approach of Election Day.”
Morrissey responded to Baliles’ criticisms in a phone call to the Richmond Times-Dispatch by describing a conversation between the two mayoral hopefuls roughly two weeks ago, wherein Baliles’ supposedly referred to them both as the “most philosophically aligned candidates.”
Baliles’ later confirmed to the Times-Dispatch that the conversation occurred, but rejected Morrissey’s characterization of it.
“I think Levar and I are very closely aligned,” Baliles said, “but, you know, when it comes to schools and things like stadiums, then, yeah, Joe and I are.”
Baliles made a point of saying that though he may agree with Morrissey on certain issues, he rejects his methods and campaigning style.
Jim Thomma, Contributing Writer