In yesterday's Democrat primary, Steve Heretick defeated anti-gay Del. Johnny Joannou and sent the fossilized Democrat in name only into political retirement. While news stories focused on Joannou's opposition to Medicaid expansion, Joannou also had a documented anti-gay voting record in the House of Delegates. Given the nature of the 79th district, Heretick is presumed to be the winner come November. Heretick's win underscores how progressives working together can make a difference. Joannou was so reactionary that even the lunatics of the Tea Party came to his aid . Here are highlights from the Virginian Pilot:
Steve Heretick upset longtime Del. Johnny Joannou on Tuesday in the Democratic primary for the state House 79th District. With all precincts reporting, Heretick claimed 52.7 percent of the votes while Joannou took 47.2 percent.
Joannou, who has served more than 30 years in the General Assembly, hadn’t faced a challenger since 2007.
Heretick, a former Portsmouth City councilman, said Joannou’s conservative voting record was out of touch with the district.
Specifically, Heretick, 54, attacked Joannou for his opposition to expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act and for not doing enough while the state was negotiating a deal to bring tolls to Hampton Roads to pay for a second tube at the Midtown Tunnel.
Heretick said it felt good to beat an “entrenched” incumbent backed “by the city’s old guard.”
“I really do feel like we’ve overcome a tremendous amount of opposition and I’m pleased to say that we’ve done it with a lot of progressive groups,” Heretick said.
Joannou declined to comment Tuesday night.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe supported Heretick. "We're happy with everything that's happening," said Morgan Finkelstein, a spokesoman for the Democratic Party of Virginia.
Heretick created a website, www.johnnyjoannou.com, that referred to Joannou as “our Tea Party delegate.” Indeed, members of the Tea Party and the National Rifle Association backed Joannou.
Members of the Portsmouth Tea Party came to his aid by encouraging members to vote in the primary, hoping to stop a more liberal candidate from getting to Richmond. Because it's a heavily-Democratic district, the primary winner is likely to win the seat in November.