Poll shows Virginia lawmaker jailed in sex scandal leading mayor’s race

A former Virginia politician who was jailed over a sex scandal involving a teenage girl leads a crowded field running for mayor of the state’s capital city, a poll showed on Tuesday.

Joe Morrissey, 58, holds a commanding lead in the Richmond mayor’s race with 28 percent of the vote city-wide, according to the Christopher Newport University poll. The poll showed him about 12 points ahead of the nearest of his seven competitors.

Morrissey pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in December 2014 for his relationship with a receptionist who began working in his office when she was 17. He is now married to the woman and they have two children.

Morrissey, who was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2007, was sentenced to six months in jail and resigned from office. He switched from Democrat to run as an independent in the special election to fill his seat.

During a three-month stay in an area jail, Morrissey commuted to the state legislature on work release and also ran his re-election campaign.

Morrissey stunned political pundits when he won in January 2015 while serving his jail sentence. He gave up his most recent bid to serve in the state Senate last September, citing health problems.

The poll was based on 600 live interviews with registered voters Aug. 18 through- 24 and has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

Morrissey also had his license to practice law revoked by the Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board in 2003.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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