As Tuesday’s Richmond City Democratic Committee mayoral forum drew to a close, Joe Morrissey cried foul.
In his closing remarks, the former commonwealth’s attorney and state delegate accused the 150-person committee and its chairman, James “J.J.” Minor, of rigging its endorsement process to ensure former Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney receives its backing.
“There’s going to be an endorsement from this venerable organization in two days. Not one of these candidates, including myself … were interviewed,” Morrissey said. “The fix is in. My good friend, Levar, has already got that endorsement without any interview. How do you do that?”
Morrissey walked off the stage shortly thereafter, as Minor made his closing remarks. In an interview after the event, Minor dismissed Morrissey’s accusation. “What he did is he sat up there and he lied about that,” Minor said.
In lieu of candidate interviews, the committee organized Tuesday’s forum so its members could hear from the candidates and determine whom to support, Minor said. Two candidates – Richmond City Council President Michelle Mosby and West End Councilman Jon Baliles – did not attend because of a previously scheduled council meeting.
The committee will decide whether to endorse one of the eight candidates vying for mayor at its monthly meeting on Thursday. Every member of the committee who is present can cast a vote to endorse or not endorse. Minor said he plans to recuse himself, allowing one of the committee’s vice chairs to conduct the proceedings.
Minor publicly endorsed Stoney during the summer, a vote of confidence he said he made in his capacity as a community activist.
Matt Corridoni, a spokesman for the Stoney campaign, said Morrissey’s assertion was “patently false,” adding that Stoney has “dedicated his entire career to fighting for progressive principles.”
“If he gets the endorsement, that will be why – emphasis on the if.”