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Morrissey, Jones fail to earn enough signatures for 16th District Senate seat primary

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RICHMOND, Va. – Former Delegate Joseph D. Morrissey and Richmond School Board member Derik Jones (son of Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones) both failed to collect enough signatures to run for the 16th District Senate seat.

The 16th District Democratic committee rejected a number of signatures from both candidates ruling them ineligible for the primary in June.

With 250 approved signatures needed, only 222 of Morrissey’s 972 were accepted. The committee accepted 129 of Jones’ 297 signatures.

Joe Morrissey addresses the media following the search of his law offices on January 12, 2015.

Joe Morrissey addresses the media following the search of his law offices on January 12, 2015.

According to Morgan Finkelstein, press secretary of the Democratic Party of Virginia, the committee’s process for accepting signatures is “consistent” and “transparent.”

"We have applied consistent, transparent standards to all of our potential candidates when they file,” Finkelstein said in a released statement. “The registrar's office graciously agreed to count for all of our candidates in the 16th District. We are grateful for their professional expertise to ensure clear, consistent and professional results.

“The registrar's office found that two candidates had insufficient numbers of legitimate signatures. Thus, the nominating committee unanimously agreed to not accept those candidates' filings."

Tuesday’s ruling means that Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg, and Del. Joseph Preston, D-Petersburg will be on the ballot for the Democratic primary in June. But, Morrissey has promised a court battle to get his name on the ballot.

He is arguing that signatures collected by a campaigner thought to be a convicted felon (and therefore ineligible to collect signatures) are legitimate because the person in question is, in fact, not a convict.

Morrissey told CBS 6 that the rejection of signatures was “unheard of.” Morrissey released a statement Tuesday night to further voice his displease:

“Out of 972 petition signatures, 750 were deemed invalid. It’s astounding that over 75 percent of these signatures were considered invalid.

Once again, the DPVA has gone above and beyond to ensure that the voters have as few choices as possible in choosing a democratic nominee.

The process has been rigged against me since day one. First, a staunch campaign supporter and former Legislative Aide to Senator Dance was chosen to lead the nominating committee, and after her resignation, I was intentionally misled as to who was her successor. Finally, once I was informed who had taken over as the committee chair, they constantly dodged my phone calls and attempts to submit my paperwork.

The Democratic Party has further sullied their brand. All I have ever asked is to be treated fairly, in line with Democratic values, and to allow the voters to decide who they want to represent them in the General Assembly.”

He added that he plans to hold a press conference either Wednesday or Thursday to further elaborate his next steps. One option is to run as an Independent candidate -- he successfully won a special election in January as an Independent for the 74th District House seat (which he vacated in December due to all of his legal issues). He has since moved into the 16th District and vacated the 74th District seat yet again.

Morrissey’s vacated 74th District seat race also got smaller Tuesday as David Lambert did not get enough signatures to qualify for the Democratic ballot, leaving Henrico School Board member Lamont Bagby and former Richmond Mayor Leonidas Young to face off.