Morrissey, Walton, Sullivan battle for 74th district seat

Former Delegate denies criminal charges

The 74th district will vote to fill the seat of Del. Joseph Morrissey, D-Charles City County, who resigned from the Virginia House of Delegates in December, in a special election Tuesday. Morrissey, who is running to represent his constituents again as an independent, will face off against Republican Matt Walton and Democrat Kevin Sullivan.

Morrissey served in the House of Delegates beginning in Nov. 2007 but was forced to resign from his seat after being convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a then-17-year-old employee at his Richmond law office with whom he was accused of having sexual relations. Morrissey pled guilty to the charges, avoiding felony charges, but has stood by his innocence. He is currently campaigning under a work-release order, which allows him to spend 12 hours per day outside of Henrico’s Regional Jail East.

“I have been focusing all of my time on the issues,” Sullivan said. “I am happy with an issue oriented campaign… [it’s] what the district really deserves.”

Morrissey has won four general elections since 2007, each time winning more than 70 percent of the vote.

The Sullivan campaign aired several attack ads, presenting Morrissey as a sexual predator in a mailer and in a one minute radio ad which featured the young woman’s father. In an effort to debunk allegations against him, Morrissey threatened to go public with accusations against the woman’s father by his family if the Sullivan campaign did not pull the ads.

After airing the attack ads, the Sullivan campaign has largely moved away from focusing on the Morrissey allegations.

“I have been focusing all of my time on the issues,” Sullivan said. “I am happy with an issue oriented campaign, … [it’s] what the district really deserves.”

Sullivan, a University graduate, is currently retired and is a manager of his small farm. He said Medicaid expansion and increased education funding are critical to the future of the commonwealth. Having worked 33 years for Anheuser-Busch Brewery, he said he wants to protect worker’s rights.

“My main focus is education and jobs,” Sullivan said. “I am looking at ways to promote job growth and also to help first time home buyers.”

Law Student Antonio Elias, president of the Law Democrats, emphasized the qualifications which would make Sullivan fit for office.

“I think Kevin Sullivan would make an excellent delegate,” Elias said. “I’ve worked with [Sullivan] in the past and I know him to be a kind and dedicated person. He used to represent laborers and labor unions and he was really passionate about it without ever being bossy and loud.”

Additionally, Elias stressed the unique needs of the 74th district’s voters and how Sullivan could fulfill them.

“[The 74th district] is a district with a lot of poverty,” Elias said. “Education is certainly very important. … Another really big issue is voting rights and specifically restoration of voting rights for people who have been convicted of felonies. … [Nevertheless,] what’s most important there is that the people get back to having a representative they can trust.”

Walton, a teacher at Glen Allen High School, has refrained from attacking Morrissey, focusing on a platform which emphasizes job creation and education.

“Education is my top priority,” Walton said. “Figuring out what we can do to attract businesses to relocate to the [74th] district and look at how to promote job growth — that’s what we really need to achieve the American dream.”

Walton said the issues mattered more to him than the allegations against Morrissey.

“My true focus is jobs and education in this election and campaign,” Walton said. “Whatever else is going on is just a distraction from the issues.”

Morrissey has $73,000 cash on hand, according to the most recent reporting deadline. Sullivan and Walton have accumulated significantly less money, having access to $13,000 and $10,000, respectively.

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