|Challenger, Steve Heretick|
Some would argue that Del. Johnny Joannou has been a Democrat in name only. On important issues, he has repeatedly sided with far right Republicans in contrast to fellow Democrats. On gay rights issues, Joannou has been most disappointing. When Tracy-Thorne-Beglund was up for appointment to the bench in Richmond, Joannou failed to support him and took the coward's approach of not voting at all. When Attorney General Mark Herring made the determination not to defend Virginia' foul Marshall-Newman Amendment, Joannou joined the Republican chorus of critics. The political blog Blue Virginia has called Joannou outright homophobic. And on an issue important to hundreds of thousands of Virginians - i.e., Medicaid expansion - Joannou again sided with the forces of backwardness in the Virginia GOP. It is far past time that Joannou be pushed into retirement. Thankfully, as the Virginian Pilot reports, Steve Heretick, a Portsmouth attorney and former Portsmouth city councilman, is challenging Joannou in the June 9th primary. It is crucial that people turn out and vote for Heretick. Here are highlights from the Pilot:
Voters might be more focused on beaches than ballots, but the June primary contest for this House of Delegates seat is high stakes.Again, if you live in the 79th district, which covers parts of Portsmouth and Norfolk, get out an vote for Steve Heretick.
That's because the Democrat who wins will likely have an easy road come November in the heavily Democratic 79th district, which covers parts of Portsmouth and Norfolk.
Del. Johnny Joannou, 75, a Portsmouth attorney and fixture in the statehouse for decades, is facing a rare challenge.
Steve Heretick, 54, a Portsmouth attorney and former Portsmouth city councilman, is looking to unseat him in the June 9 election.
Heretick is going after Joannou on two main issues: Medicaid expansion and tolls.
He criticized Joannou for being the only Democrat in the 2014 General Assembly session to vote against expanding Medicaid - as allowed under the president's Affordable Care Act - to insure as many as 400,000 low-income Virginians. The measure failed in the General Assembly.
"We have the best health care technology and close to half a million working people in this state who have already paid for it who can't access it because of people like Johnny Joannou," he said.
Heretick also accused Joannou of not doing enough to stop the tolls that started last year on the Downtown and Midtown tunnels. The tolls were the result of a deal brokered by former Gov. Bob McDonnell and the Virginia Department of Transportation with a private company to build a new Midtown Tunnel and other road projects.
Specifically, Heretick said Joannou could have used his status as a member of a powerful House budget committee to try to block the deal. Joannou is one of six budget "conferees" in the House. "You get one of these issues in a generation - and he didn't do a thing," Heretick said.