The Richmond City Democratic Committee (RCDC) voted Thursday night to censure state Sen. Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) for comments he made towards the president of Petersburg’s NAACP chapter. Petersburg in its entirety is included in Morrissey’s Senate district.
“I was very upset to read, and then hear, Sen. Morrissey’s appalling and repeated threats of violence against a constituent, Mr. Jefferson,” said Jimmie Lee Jarvis, the member of RCDC who made the motion to censure Morrissey Thursday night.
The incident in question happened earlier this week in the Pocahontas building between Petersburg’s NAACP President Lafayette Jefferson and Morrissey.
Morrissey brought up an old post from Jefferson where he compared the senator to Thomas Jefferson and his wife to Sally Hemmings. Morrissey confirmed to the Richmond Times-Dispatch that he threatened to rip Jefferson’s heart out during the exchange.
“There was no question in my mind that the RCDC would not tolerate that behavior from a lay member and I’m glad that the body voted overwhelmingly to make it clear we won’t tolerate it from a senator, either,” Jarvis said.
“They’re a bunch of young, white, entitled, wannabe-wokes who took a break tonight from spray painting people’s homes, setting fire to the city, and smashing windows, in order to censure me for simply defending the honor of my wife,” Morrissey said in an interview with Virginia Scope Thursday night. “They have spent the last two years whining incessantly about their insufficient stimulus checks and unsuccessful efforts to defund the police, but on the other hand, I have spent my last two years ending the death penalty, establishing mental health dockets, banning chokeholds, and increasing the minimum wage. All of my bills – who do you think has been more successful?”
Morrissey has power in the Virginia Senate due to his reputation of not always voting in lockstep with his Democratic caucus. The chamber is split between 21 Democrats and 19 Republicans with a new lieutenant governor in Winsome Sears (R) giving tiebreaking privilege to the GOP. Morrissey can flip on any bill he wants and end the Democratic chances of passing it if the Republicans stay united in their opposition.
Jessee Perry is a member of RCDC and seconded the motion from Jarvis to censure Morrissey. She notes that she believes this needed to happen regardless of Morrissey’s swing vote position of power. “Swing vote or not, it is not acceptable behavior to threaten violence for any reason and we must hold our elected officials accountable to the values of our party,” she said in an interview Thursday night. “Not only did he stand by his threats on the record, he has a past incident of violence in the courtroom and has held onto the image of ‘Fighting Joe’ including boxing glove imagery on past campaign signs. There is no reason to believe these threats are hyperbole and we must condemn them wholly.”
Morrissey does have a reputation of getting into trouble including jail time for starting a relationship with the woman who is now his wife while she was underage. He never admitted to any crimes but submitted an Alford plea for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. In the final days of his term as governor, Ralph Northam pardoned Morrissey for the crime.
His license to practice law in Virginia has also been revoked.
“They are spoiled brats whose singular goal in life is to complain about what society owes them,” Morrissey said about RCDC Thursday night. “I consider it an honor to be censured by this crowd.”
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