Morrissey reflects on election, upcoming session

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State Sen. Joe Morrissey (D) took time last week to reflect on the Nov. 2 election in which Glenn Youngkin (R) won the governor’s race and his party picked up seven seats to win control of the state House of Delegates, subject to two recounts in Hampton Roads.

Earlier, Morrissey said he thought Democrat former Gov. Terry McAuliffe would win, based largely on the coronavirus. However, that issue faded a bit over the last several weeks heading up to the election and trailed the economy, education and taxes in issues on voters’ minds, according to MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki. 

Morrissey said his mind changed when McAuliffe made a comment during a debate about parents not telling schools what they should teach. 

“That changed the trajectory,” Morrissey said, “because it conflated it [with]Loudoun County.” He was referring to a 14-year-old gender fluid boy who was found guilty last month of sexually assaulting a girl in a high school, according to WJLA ABC-7 TV. The boy was also charged with sexually assaulting another girl at another high school after being transferred. 

Morrissey sent a letter on Oct. 14 to Loudoun County public schools Superintendent Scott Ziegler about the issue after Ziegler denied knowing about the assault at a June 22 school board meeting. In his letter, Morrissey noted that the British tabloid, The Daily Mail, reported on the issue. 

“Democrats had always controlled the education issue” before McAuliffe’s recent snafu, Morrissey said. 

He said he projected that the Democrats would lose five seats in the House. There were no state Senate seats on the ballot this year. 

In the eastern half of Chesterfield County, Delegate Carrie Coyner (R) easily defeated her Democrat opponent Jasmine Gore, 57.8 to 42 percent, in House District 62. In addition, Bill Cherry (R) defended Del. Kirk Cox’s seat by defeating Katie Sponsler (D), 52.4 to 47.4 percent, in House District 66. 

In House District 63, which represents Petersburg and southwest Chesterfield, Del. Lashrecse Aird (D) was knocked off by Kim Taylor (R), 51 to 49 percent. Morrissey noted that Aird vastly outspent Taylor but did not knock on doors, eschewing that in favor of TV ads. According to vpap.org, Aird raised $1.22 million compared to $209,901 for Taylor. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $150,000 to Aird’s campaign on Sept. 28. Her other top donors included Clean Virginia employee Michael D. Bills at $50,000 and attorney Sonjia S. Smith at $40,000. Morrissey said Bills and Smith are married. 

Upcoming session

With the Democrats still in control of the state Senate 21-19 and with Lt. Gov-elect Winsome Sears (R) able to break ties, Morrissey and fellow moderate Sen. Chap Peterson (D-Fairfax) will wield significant influence. 

Morrissey, who favors school choice and calls himself pro-life, said education and abortion-related bills are areas where he could work with Republicans. Another example is campaign finance reform. He agreed to work with Del.-elect Tim Anderson (R-Virginia Beach) on that issue. “We gotta slay this dragon now,” Morrissey said, referring to the profligate spending and donations to campaigns for seats that have a $17,640 a year salary. 

Anderson defeated incumbent Nancy Guy (D) 51.2 to 48.6 percent in House District 83, one of several close races that swung in this election cycle. Morrissey said he met Anderson, an attorney, earlier this year when he represented state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) in a lawsuit regarding her censure by the state Senate. That suit was dismissed in May by U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Payne. 

Morrissey said he would look at proposals with an open mind, including Youngkin’s plan to axe the 2.5-percent grocery tax. However, Morrissey said that Fairfax County, for example, gets $60 million from the tax, which he said would have to be made up somehow. 

Since Richmond voters rejected a referendum for a casino, Morrissey said he plans to introduce legislation that would give the license to Petersburg instead. He noted that earlier this year the legislature approved five such licenses in the state, four of which have been approved by local voters. Petersburg voters would ultimately have to approve such a measure. 

On a side note, Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares (R) of Virginia Beach won 104 more votes in Chesterfield than Youngkin, 80,993 to 80,889. Sears got 80,862 votes in the county. Miyares defeated two-term incumbent Mark Herring (D), while Sears, a former one-term delegate who grew up in Jamaica and served in the U.S. Marine Corps, topped Del. Hala Ayala (D-Prince William County), a two-term delegate with Hispanic, Irish and Lebanese lineage. 

Earlier this year, Morrissey endorsed Del. Jerrauld Jones (D-Norfolk) in the primary with Herring, who won the seat initially by 907 votes in 2013 after a recount over state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg). Morrissey was upset with Herring and said he signed off on the investigation that resulted in three misdemeanor charges against him that were later nolle prossed in a case Morrissey termed “donutgate.” Last December, Morrissey said he would “oppose every effort for [Herring] to be re-elected,” including supporting the Republican if Herring won the Democratic nomination. 

 

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