FILE - Virginia Sen-elect Joe Morrissey

Virginia Sen-elect Joe Morrissey

A controversial Democrat who was once jailed for having sex with a 17-year-old intern and earned the nickname “Fighting Joe” for punching a defense attorney was elected to the Virginia State Senate to serve in District 16.

The senator-elect, Joe Morrissey, defeated an independent opponent, Waylin Ross, with 65.2 percent of the vote to Ross’s 34.8 percent. Tuesday's election victory came after Morrissey defeated incumbent Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg, in a primary race. In the primary, Morrissey received 56 percent of the vote to Dance’s 44 percent.

When he was a delegate in the Virginia House in 2015, Morrissey went to jail for having sex with an intern at his law firm who was 17 years old, to whom he is now married. He claims he is innocent.

The conviction led him to be disbarred from practicing law in Virginia for the second time. The first time, he was disbarred for punching a defense lawyer when he served as Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney in 1991 and bragged about it. This earned him the nickname “Fighting Joe.”

In November’s election, Democrats flipped both chambers from a Republican majority to a Democratic majority. For the first time in about 25 years, Democrats control the Virginia House of Delegates, the Virginia Senate and the governor’s mansion.

Staff Reporter

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Ohio for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.