A former Richmond City Council member and candidate for mayor sounded off on what he characterized as the undo influence of party politics and outside money on the city’s mayoral race.
Chuck Richardson, a councilman for 18 years and a mayoral candidate for about a month, criticized the Democratic Party for soliciting donors who live outside of the city to support former Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney’s campaign for Richmond mayor. The broadside came in an opinion piece published Friday in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
In the editorial, which did not mention Stoney by name, Richardson wrote that the “establishment’s influence in this mayoral election is subverting our democratic process and disregarding the traditional Richmond mayoral path by emphasizing and using an excessive amount of outside campaign funds.”
Stoney raised $417,000 in the first three months of his campaign, about twice as much as his closest opponent. Matt Corridoni, the campaign's spokesman, said in a text message that Stoney has more Richmond-area donors than any other candidate.
Richardson, who is African-American, also argued the Democrats were lining up behind Stoney, who is also African-American, because of his race and presumed appeal in a majority black city. “Does the establishment think African-Americans are so naive or racially inclined that we will automatically vote for a black person just because of the color of his or her skin? Is the candidate endorsed really qualified, or just being used because of skin color?”
Corridoni dismissed Richardson's assertion.
"While Mr. Richardson is entitled to his opinion, he should know that Levar is not the candidate in this race who thinks that African-American voters are naive — that's Joe Morrissey."
Reached by phone, Morrissey balked at Corridoni's comment. The former state delegate and commonwealth's attorney pointed out that he is married to an African-American woman and has three African-American children.
"That comment is shocking, disgraceful and offensive to everyone," he said. "I don't have anything to say other than that."
Stoney and Morrissey tangled earlier this week at a town hall held in the East End. The spat came days after the Supreme Court of Virginia invalidated Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s executive order restoring the voting rights of 206,000 people convicted of felonies. Morrissey had criticized the governor and Stoney, who had touted his work on the issue, in the newspaper for politicizing the matter.
In a strange twist, McAuliffe's order was what enabled Richardson, who was convicted of a drug-related felony in the mid-'90s, to run for mayor in the first place. He dropped his bid in June.
You can read his full editorial here.