Chesterfield County voters elected two independent-minded legislators last week in Democrat Joe Morrissey and Republican Amanda Chase.
And on Morrissey’s radio show last week on WJFN 100.5 FM, the two said they would work together in the Senate.
Democrats took control of the body, 21-19, by picking up two seats on Nov. 5. Morrissey and a man he volunteered for in 1979, state Sen. Dick Saslaw, D-Springfield, could be moderating forces on their party, along with Gov. Ralph Northam.
Chase said she looks forward to working with Morrissey. “We have five or six bills that we can automatically work on,” she said.
Morrissey asked Chase where they can compromise on gun legislation, asking about silencers or suppressors and limiting the number of cartridges in magazines as examples.
Chase, a hardcore gun rights supporter who has been known to carry a pistol, demurred. “I’m never going to sponsor legislation that restricts law-abiding citizens,” she said.
Morrissey called Nov. 5 “a great night for women” and noted that Democrat Ghazala Hashmi defeated one-term incumbent state Sen. Glen Sturtevant, whom Morrissey called a “rising star in the Republican Party.” However, Morrissey – who served almost nine years in the state House previously – encouraged his fellow Democrats to “pump the brakes a little bit” in regard to how far they go in passing legislation. “If you want to be successful, you’ll have to do that,” he said, noting that politics is cyclical.
Morrissey touted a bill that he intends to propose which would impose a misdemeanor on a member of the General Assembly for trying to influence a proposed 16-member independent redistricting board that would redraw state and federal districts after the 2020 census. The bill that would create such a board passed overwhelmingly earlier this year, and as a constitutional amendment requires a second vote, but some Democrats have talked about abandoning the idea, Morrissey said. Chase said she is supportive of the legislation.
Although she and Morrissey agree on some issues, Chase is fearful the Democrats will “try to go full throttle and make Virginia more like New York or California.” If they do that, “you’re going to see a huge backlash,” she said.
“It’s going to be a rough two years,” she said. “The Democratic Party is streamlining toward socialism. My hope is the Republicans pick up control [of the House] in two years….This is not the JFK Democrats [of former President John F. Kennedy],” she said. “Socialist Democrats are going to be in control of the House.” Pending a recount in House District 83 where incumbent Republican Chris Stolle trails Nancy Guy by 18 votes, Democrats would have a 55-45 advantage after picking up six seats.
Some bills that didn’t pass previously could see daylight come January, including an increase in the minimum wage up to $15 an hour, various gun-control measures and protections for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, for example.
Chase said the Democrats will “try some extreme legislation,” but she believes the pendulum will ultimately swing back the other way.
She plans on completing a second four-year term and then running for governor in 2025.
“A number of people have asked me about running for higher office,” she said on Nov. 6. “I wanted to see what the results were yesterday. A 10-percent win gives me a sense of confidence.”