Del. Morrissey wins back his 74th district House seat

Published: Jan. 14, 2015 at 1:25 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2015 at 5:59 AM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Del. Joe Morrissey, who resigned his seat in the Virginia House of Delegates

, has won the special election held to fill that vacated seat. The embattled politician will now retake the 74th District in the Virginia House of Delegates as an Independent.

show Morrissey held the lead all night after polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Morrissey, who ran as an Independent, edged out competition from Republican Matt Walton and Democrat Kevin Sullivan.

According to the Virginia Department of Elections, Morrissey won about 42 percent of the votes. Democratic challenger, Kevin Sullivan, got about 33 percent, and Republican Matt Walton got a quarter of the votes. Those results still need to be certified.

Morrissey resigned after being convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Morrissey is absorbing that win from Henrico County jail, where he is serving his sentence. Morrissey says he won with a clean campaign, despite months of circulating scandal, allegations, and charges.

"During this campaign, I promised, like I had for the last seven and a half years, that I would run a positive campaign," said Morrissey after the polls closed in his Henrico law office.

In December, Morrissey took an Alford plea for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Morrissey has always denied the charges, even though he's now serving jail time. The legislator is only allowed out for work.

Morrissey's supporters say, they voted on his political record, not his personal one.

"His legislative record shows that he defends the people, and he looks out for the Commonwealth," said voter Lewis Hatcher.

Fighting Joe prevailed, even after what he calls a smear campaign by opponent Kevin Sullivan. "The other opponent sent out nine of the most hurtful, mean-spirited pieces I've ever seen… sent over 100,000 robo calls that were mean. And I said, 'We're not going that way.'"

In a statement, Democratic challenger Kevin Sullivan wrote:

"While we're disappointed with the results, I'm very proud of the campaign we put together in such a short time frame. We met tons of voters who are dissatisfied with their representation and are ready for effective leadership in the State House. I look forward to continuing my work on improving the lives of working class families."

In another statement, Republican challenger Matt Walton wrote:

"I'm honored to have run, and proud of my campaign and the people who worked on it. My focus now is getting my students ready for their exams next week, and building the future for Henrico by teaching our children. I'm excited to teach my high school Sunday school class on Sunday, and to help them develop into role models."

The way Morrissey will be going is back to the General Assembly building, to his law office in Henrico, or to court. These are the only places he's allowed to attend until his full release from jail.

However, other legislators are now aiming to kick Morrissey out of the House, even though he just won back his seat. House Speaker William J. Howell released a statement calling for Morrissey's censure or expulsion from the legislature. The legislature would have to vote to approve either disciplinary action.

Democratic Leader David Toscano and Caucus Chair Scott Surovell also released a joint statement:

“Joe Morrissey chose to run as an Independent; he is not a member of the Democratic Party, nor is he a member of the House Democratic Caucus. His conviction and actions over the past two months were reprehensible, and we will be exploring every avenue in regard to his status as a member of the House of Delegates."

Morrissey was late getting back to jail election night. He'll be docked 30 minutes from his release time on Wednesday, according to Henrico Sheriff Michael Wade.

The General Assembly session kicks off on Wednesday.

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