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Joseph D. Morrissey (left) and Derik Jones

Former Del. Joseph D. Morrissey was not certified to run as a Democrat for the seat of state Sen. Rosalyn R. Dance, D-Petersburg.

The 16th District Democratic Committee, relying on district registrars’ reviews of petitions Morrissey submitted, unanimously voted Tuesday to accept the finding that only 222 of the 972 petition signatures were acceptable.

Derik Jones, a Richmond School Board Board member and son of Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, also did not qualify. Only 129 of his roughly 300 signatures were accepted as valid.

A candidate needs 250 valid signatures to qualify for the June 9 primary ballot.

Barring a successful court challenge, the committee’s decision means two names will appear on the primary ballot for the Senate seat: Dance and Del. Joseph D. Preston, D-Petersburg, Last year, Preston won the seat Dance formerly held in the House of Delegates.

An additional five pages of signatures Morrissey submitted were not even counted. The review concluded that two pages were duplicates, one page did not have dates next to the signatures, and two other pages were gathered by a felon whose rights have not been restored.

Speaking Tuesday prior to the meeting at Democratic Party of Virginia headquarters in Richmond, Morrissey seemed to sense that things might not go his way. He said he thought there had been some “mischief” in the process and that he would have more to say after the meeting, which he did not attend.

The former delegate said later Tuesday that he would challenge the committee’s decision not to certify him for the primary ballot.

“I’m not angry; I’m not bitter,” Morrissey said in an interview. “I’m just flabbergasted that the state Democratic Party would do what they did.”

Morrissey said he was sending a letter to the Democratic Party of Virginia asking it to identify the signatures that were deemed unacceptable. He said he thought it was close to a “statistical impossibility” that there were not at least 250 valid signatures on the petitions.

He charged that the party, along with supporters of Dance on the committee, worked to keep him off the ballot and said it has “tarnished their brand and their reputation.”

Morrissey said he would outline his next steps today in a news conference, but he left little doubt he would challenge the decision and seek legal remedy if necessary.

“Everything is going to come out in court,” he said.

The 16th Senatorial District includes Petersburg and Hopewell; part of Richmond; and parts of Chesterfield, Prince George and Dinwiddie counties.

Dance won the seat in November. She replaced former Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, who took a job with the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board last summer.

In a statement Tuesday, Dance thanked volunteers who served on the 16th District nominating committee.

“These local committee representatives worked hard in an honest, straightforward and transparent way to ensure the process was fair and consistent for all involved,” she said.

“I also want to thank the registrars in the region who volunteered their time and their efforts to check over 2,000 signatures submitted by the four individuals. Because of their willingness to do this, we can be confident we had consistent professional standards used to evaluate all petitions signatures.”

Morrissey formally announced a bid for Dance’s Senate seat last week. As required by state law, Morrissey vacated his seat in the 74th House of Delegates district.

On April 28, Morrissey is scheduled to go on trial on felony charges that he submitted fraudulent documents relating to his recent misdemeanor conviction for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

jnolan@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6061

Twitter: @RTDNolan

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