The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Joe Morrissey is bad for all women — not just the ones he seduced

Joe Morrissey, then a Richmond mayoral candidate, in 2016. (Julia Rendleman for The Washington Post)
5 min

It has become clear that the Virginia state senator who calls himself “Fightin’ Joe Morrissey” has one main target: Women.

Sen. Joe Morrissey’s estranged wife, Myrna Morrissey, whom he groomed as a teen when he hired and seduced her a decade ago, filed for divorce last week and her account of their May-December romance lived up to all its troubling rumors.

“Do you think you could put the baby off on one of your male friends?” Morrissey allegedly asked when she told him she was pregnant with their first child, according to the court affidavit, which also details abuse, neglect and infidelity.

“I love her very much,” Morrissey said of his wife during a brief interview with my Washington Post colleague Gregory S. Schneider. “It breaks my heart that she would make these absolutely false allegations.”

Sure, he’s “Fightin’ Joe” — one look at his legal trail tells you that. It’s well known he threw fists in court and has been disbarred, twice.

A deeper dive into his petty legal cases show him also coming to blows with a former client in his office in 2018 (the judge dismissed both of their claims); four people, including a contractor who said he suffered severe physical and mental trauma, reported being attacked by dogs on Morrissey’s property (we couldn’t determine the outcome of that allegation); a woman took him to court after he blocked her driveway in 2019 (the judge dismissed the case); Morrissey sued a private detective (the judge dismissed that case this year), and on and on.

'Fightin' Joe' Morrissey may be the only Democrat who can out-Trump Donald Trump

With all that fightin’ it’s a miracle the guy has time to do any legislatin’, let alone the hobby of his that should give all women of Virginia pause: Conquerin’.

He’s more than Joe the Fighter. He’s trying to make himself Joe the Conqueror. Of women.

The guy — who started this whole affair with teen Myrna Pride when he was already the father of two women in their 20s — went on to father two more children with Pride before asking her to marry him. He then used the family to rehabilitate his public image, starring Myrna Morrissey in his billboard ads and commercials. (He still has her posing as the happy wife on his website.)

He asked her to care for another child he had fathered before their marriage, then he fathered one more child with her. When she asked for help, he told her: “You’re living the American dream!!! What’s so [expletive] hard?” according to the court document.

She was just out of high school, caring for four children when — her court filing alleges — her husband went on to have multiple affairs with babysitters, clients and a sheriff’s deputy. One of them, she alleges in the divorce papers, gave birth to his twins.

Joe Morrissey is the human train wreck that Virginia voters can't get enough of

Morrissey is up for reelection, and he’s long skated by on tepid but dutiful endorsements from prominent Virginia Democrats. Even Ralph Northam pardoned Morrissey as one of his last official acts as governor. Morrissey was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for allegedly having sex with then-underage Myrna Pride. Morrissey entered an Alford plea, meaning he acknowledged the evidence against him without admitting guilt, and served 90 days in jail.

Those were dirty and gross endorsements calculated to cling to a Democratic majority, slim in the Senate at a time when Morrissey has signaled a willingness to consider abortion restrictions, including serving as co-patron of a 2022 bill that would have set a ban after 20 weeks.

That’s right. Joe the Conqueror wants to tell the rest of Virginia’s women what to do with their bodies. He credits his Catholic background with influencing his position.

Huh. Perhaps he should revisit the catechism for guidance on adultery.

His lack of dedication to women’s autonomy isn’t news to Virginia. In 2020 he voted against the Reproductive Health Protection Act that would have removed some of the suffocating restrictions on abortion care such as mandatory ultrasounds and 24-hour delays. Two years later, he co-sponsored Republican Sen. Amanda Chase’s “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which prohibits abortions after 20 weeks except when the mother’s life or long-term health is endangered.

Familiar faces duke it out in Virginia primary

His reelection bid is being challenged by former delegate Lashrecse Aird (D), whose campaign slogan is “Roe not Joe.” A group from the Virginia Senate Democratic Women’s Caucus issued a joint statement endorsing Aird with terse words for Joe the Conqueror:

“Morrissey has a long history of being on the wrong side of the values that matter to Virginia’s Democratic voters. His public behavior has, for years, drawn attention to himself rather than to the needs of his constituents,” the caucus statement said.

Myrna Morrissey believed in the slick, smart Morrissey when she met him. He promised her a great life, an American Dream.

Her divorce papers describe a nightmare of emotional and physical abuse, of manipulation and lies.

She said it was the “biggest mistake” of her life.

Virginia voters need to listen to her.