Former Del. Joseph D. Morrissey announced Thursday that he is withdrawing from his state Senate race with Sen. Rosalyn R. Dance, citing health concerns.
Last week Morrissey suspended his campaign in order to consult with doctors about his condition, a paralyzed diaphragm.
"After speaking with all of my health care providers, I have decided to withdraw from the state Senate race and focus on rehabilitating my diaphragm," Morrissey said in a statement.
"For 3 ½ months, I have enjoyed going door-to-door and meeting with thousands of folks in central Virginia. However, at this time, my primary concerns are my health and growing family."
Dance, now unopposed in her race for re-election, said in a phone interview Thursday that she will continue to seek the support of voters in the 16th Senate district, which stretches from eastern Richmond to the Tri-Cities area.
"I respect his decision, but as the senator running to get the support of my district, I am going to be continuing my march to November 3," Dance said.
"I always take my opponents seriously and I have taken him seriously. I have knocked on many doors and I know that he has knocked doors as well, that’s what we do. He probably has decided that he needs to make a change and I respect that. But for me, I am still all the way in."
Morrissey did not just face health challenges. The state of his fundraising indicated that his Senate bid was in financial trouble.
While he has raised $32,300 in 2015, a vast majority of the funds was transferred to his Senate campaign from his war chest backing his previous House of Delegates race.
In June, the most recent reporting period, Morrissey received just one $25 donation for his Senate bid. By June 30, he had $3,100 cash on hand.
Dance, during the same time, reported to have raised $15,000, with $36,900 cash on hand.
Stephen J. Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, said that Morrissey's Senate bid was not shaping up to be as successful as his previous House of Delegates races.
"He wasn’t raising money and didn’t get as much media attention. And he had to introduce himself to a much larger district. But my guess is that Joe Morrissey will be on the ballot somewhere in the Richmond area very soon," Farnsworth said, referring to speculation that Morrissey might run for mayor of Richmond in 2016.
The latest development adds another twist to a tumultuous year in the former Richmond prosecutor's career.
In December, Morrissey pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and was sentenced to six months in jail; he served three, commuting to the legislature from jail daily.
In March Morrissey announced his plan to challenge Dance in the June 9 Democratic primary, thereby vacating the House seat he had held since 2008.
The 16th District Democratic Committee later ruled that Morrissey did not amass enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. He subsequently announced plans to take on Dance as an independent.
In May, after months of speculation, Morrissey confirmed on a radio program that he fathered the baby of the woman at the center of his sex crime scandal.
Observers of city politics have speculated about whether Morrissey could now join what is expected to be a crowded field running for mayor of Richmond next year.
Morrissey today released a letter from his doctor, adding: "As the attached letter from my personal physician makes clear, I am 100% certain that I will fully rehabilitate my diaphragm and make a 100% recovery."
Morrissey's physician, Dr. L. Randolph Chisolm of Midlothian Family Practice, says in the letter that in the spring of 2012, during Morrissey's annual physical, a chest X-Ray "revealed an unusual spot." Further diagnosis revealed that Morrissey had suffered an injury to the left hemi diaphragm.
In November 2012 Morrissey underwent a phrenic nerve operation in Newark, N.J. A nerve from his ankle was grafted onto the phrenic nerve in his neck.
Recent physical examinations showed that Morrissey's left diaphragm is paralyzed, the doctor wrote. Morrissey's physicians have prescribed "an aggressive course of physical therapy in an effort to rehabilitate the left diaphragm."
Morrissey appeared to be in good spirits today in Richmond Circuit Court, where he defended Richmond School Board member Tichi Pinkney Eppes, who was in court on charges related to passing a stopped school bus.
Morrissey, a former Henrico County Democrat, forfeited his 74th District House seat when he moved out of the district into Richmond's Church Hill neighborhood in order to take on Dance, D-Petersburg.
The 16th Senate District seat covers the cities of Petersburg and Hopewell and parts of the city of Richmond, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and Prince George counties.