Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones is having a rough go of it lately. His downtown stadium proposal is in limbo, as members of the City Council outmaneuver him at seemingly every turn.
This past weekend provided another blow: Petersburg Delegate Rosalyn Dance won the Democratic primary for a special election to replace retired state Senator Henry Marsh. Dance will face an independent in the general election, but the heavily Democratic district should stick with her by a comfortably margin.
Why is this bad for Jones? The Mayor, who is also the state's Democratic party chair, endorsed Dance's opponent, Delegate Delores McQuinn. Dance's win had a lot to do with the Senate district, which includes both Petersburg and parts of Richmond. The Richmond contingent in the district, including the Mayor, backed McQuinn, so this election can be seen as a reassertion of the district's Petersburg roots.
But as Bearing Drift's Norm Leahy notes, you could also describe this election as Dance beating back the Democratic establishment, including Jones, Marsh, and even Joe Morrissey, who backed a primary challenge to Dance last year. (The machine is pushing back, as a state Democratic committee is floating the idea of voter fraud to see if they can delay certifying the election results. Stay tuned.)
This is especially damaging for Jones. Not only did his candidate lose, damaging his credibility as a Richmond power broker. But his endorsement of McQuinn came in the form of late-race robo-calls, in violation of general practice that state chairs should not publicly endorse in primary battles. Plus McQuinn was a stadium backer; it's not clear if anyone voted against her because of it, but it's yet more evidence that the Mayor's stadium proposal is at least not a obvious vote winner. It all adds up to another political defeat for the Mayor.