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Joe Morrissey says he's done with politics: 'I'm moving on'

Posted at 9:42 PM, Jun 20, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- After more than 30 years in Virginia politics, Joe Morrissey says he's done.

The state senator lost his Democratic primary election Tuesday to former state legislator Lashrecse Aird.

"I'm moving on to the next chapter in my life, I want to be a full-time dad and coach all my kids in a myriad of sports and I'm actually really, really looking forward to that," Morrissey said in a phone interview with Jake Burns. "As I tell them all the time, you always fight to the end. You never quit. You never give up. But in the end, you know, it's always in God's hands. And then that's how I feel."

Burns again asked if Morrissey ever planned to run for political office.

"Somewhere down the road, you know, I'll continue serving in some capacity, perhaps in my church, or, you know, some local entity," he said. "I cannot see [running for office] ever happening again. You've got to know when to look forward to that next chapter. And I say this with 100% certitude being a full-time dad and a coach to my kids... that's going to become a full-time job for me."

Morrissey, a controversial figure in Richmond and beyond, has served as the Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney in the 1990s and later in the Virginia House of Delegates and the Virginia State Senate. He ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Richmond in 2016.

In early 2022, outgoing Virginia Governor Ralph Northam pardoned Morrissey who was jailed after a sex scandal that involved a 17-year-old receptionist who later became his (now ex-) wife.

The pardon was another rung on the ladder of redemption for Morrissey, a scandal-scarred politician who has been disbarred twice and calls himself “Fighting Joe. ”

The pardon stemmed from a scandal that began when Morrissey was in the House of Delegates nearly eight years ago.

He resigned his seat after being convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, his receptionist at his law firm.

Morrissey won re-election as an independent in a special election a month later.

For the next two months, he spent his days working at the General Assembly. But he served his nights in jail as part of a work-release sentence on the conviction, for which he is now pardoned.

In March 2015, Morrissey resigned his seat in the House to run for the Virginia State Senate but failed to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot.

In 2016, he was the frontrunner in the Richmond mayor’s race until a legal client accused him of making unwanted sexual advances and sending her lewd text messages.

"What we saw in this [2023] race, particularly in the latter days, is Joe Morrissey trying to appeal to Republicans to come out and vote for him, particularly down in the southern part of the district and Dinwiddie and Prince George," CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said.

Holsworth said Morrissey likely would not have succeeded had he tried to run for the seat in November as a Republican or an Independent candidate.

Breaking down Virginia election results

"I think it's too late for that to really happen," he said. "These districts are in this fashion that the district that Morrissey is in is a Democratic district, you're not going to be able to run even if you could, as an independent or a Republican and win in that district."

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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