Del. Bagby Withdraws and Endorses Sen. McClellan in VA-04 Race as Democrats Unite Against Sen. Morrissey

Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-Henrico) has withdrawn from the race for the nomination for the open Virginia 4th Congressional District seat and endorsed State Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), a move that comes as top Virginia Democrats try to block State Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) from taking the nomination for the safe-Democratic seat. After Morrissey and McClellan announced for the race, endorsements from Democrats like Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) started to come in for McClellan, with more coming in after Bagby’s Thursday withdrawal.

Morrissey reacted to Bagby’s announcement with a Thursday press conference where he painted VA-04 Democrats’ decision to hold a firehouse primary on Tuesday and the locations selected as part of an effort to make sure McClellan wins.

“They’re doing now what they did three years ago. They are anointing and appointing. They did that with the Dance race and you saw what happened, I did not quit three years ago and I will not quit now,” he said.

Bagby appeared alongside McClellan at a press conference on Friday. He called for unity and described himself and McClellan as partners in passing legislation and in their work for the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

“We have to do what’s in the best interest of the greater good, and if we’re doing it for personal reasons, we’re not doing it for the right reasons,” he said.

On Friday, Richmond lawyer Paul Goldman filed a federal voting rights lawsuit over the upcoming Tuesday primary.

“Can the VA Democratic Party try to knowingly disenfranchise Black voters by holding a state sanctioned nomination process where the voters of a majority of the jurisdictions in the 4th CD cannot vote anywhere in their town or city, or, for those fortunate enough to have such a voting location, be made to travel many miles into another part of said locality? I think this is a throwback to the days of voter suppression, totally inconsistent with Democratic values,” Goldman said in an email to the media.

Before Democrats announced the date of their primary, Goldman had hinted that he would also have considered it potentially unconstitutional if the party had held a Saturday nomination.

With The Virginia Star’s Publisher, Trump-aligned radio host John Fredericks endorsing Morrissey and telling his followers to vote in the Democratic primary, the Republican nomination is getting little attention. Three candidates have filed for the race, including Leon Benjamin, who lost the VA-04 race to late Congressman Donald McEachin in November, Reaching America think tank President Derrick Hollie, and Dale Sturdifen, who ran against State Senator Frank Ruff (R-Mecklenberg) in the 2019 primary.

Republicans will hold a canvass at Life Christian Academy on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. In a press release announcing the nomination process, the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) echoed Morrissey’s concerns about Democratic vote suppression.

“With the last-minute nature of these nominations, Democrats are holding their nomination contest just five days before Christmas and on a weekday. This exclusionary process constitutes voter manipulation by Democrats to ensure that the least number of people possible participate in their nomination process, thereby tipping the nomination to the more extreme candidate pre-selected by Democrat Party bosses. This sort of election engineering is something we have seen from the Democrats time and time again, and it is an indisputable form of voter suppression,” the RPV said.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Jennifer McClellan” by Jennifer McClellan. Photo “Joe Morrissey” by Senator Joe Morrissey. Photo “Lamont Bagby” by Delegate Lamont Bagby. Background Photo “United States Capitol Building” by EEBS27. CC BY-SA 4.0.



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