Republicans and Democrats Face Accusations of Physical Violence Against Women in Virginia Election
Richmond, VA – Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Garrett dropped his reelection bid in 2018 to seek treatment for alcoholism. Now, he is making a political comeback as a candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates. However, his return to the political arena has been marred by allegations of abuse in a bitter divorce. His estranged wife, Flanna Sheridan Garrett, has accused him of a “long line of physical and emotional abuses,” including claims that he strangled her in a hotel bed with their infant daughter nearby. Garrett, along with three other candidates for state legislative seats in Virginia, has been accused of physical violence against women. Despite these allegations, they are all on the ballot in Tuesday’s high-stakes general election, which will determine the balance of power in the state.
Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, suggests that partisan politics may overshadow character concerns in the current political climate. He believes that many are willing to tolerate misconduct if it is committed by someone on their own partisan team.
Garrett, who denies the allegations made by his estranged wife, is the GOP nominee for the heavily Republican 56th District. His only competition in the general election is two write-in candidates, making his victory likely. In a more competitive race, Democrat Clinton Jenkins faces assault and battery charges from the late 1990s and early 2000s, which were ultimately dismissed. His opponent, Republican Emily Brewer, has run TV ads highlighting the allegations and accusing Jenkins of being a domestic abuser. Jenkins and Brewer are competing in a state Senate district known for being politically divided.
Another candidate facing abuse allegations is Republican Del. Matt Fariss, a member of the House since 2012. According to court records, he was charged in March with swerving his SUV toward his romantic partner, hitting her and leaving her with minor injuries. Fariss, who asserts that the allegations are false, faces two felony counts and a misdemeanor. His trial is set for January 2021. Despite these charges, he is running as an independent in a district south of Lynchburg. His campaign donations have decreased since the charges were filed, and he has shown little activity on his website and social media.
Outgoing state Sen. Joe Morrissey, a Democrat, has also been accused of abuse. Morrissey, a disbarred attorney, was defeated in a June primary by a candidate who focused on protecting abortion rights. His estranged wife has alleged that he physically assaulted and emotionally abused her. Morrissey vehemently denies these claims.
The abuse allegations against these candidates have received a mixed reaction from members of their own parties. Lisa Sales, president of the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for Women, believes that voters should be concerned about these allegations, regardless of party affiliation. However, she acknowledges that much of the attention in Virginia has been on partisan politics due to the narrow political divide in the state.
Ultimately, the outcome of Tuesday’s election will determine the balance of power in both the House and the Senate in Virginia. As the accusations against these candidates continue to raise concerns, it remains to be seen whether they will impact the results of the election.
Disclaimer: None of the candidates mentioned in this article have been convicted of a crime. The allegations are still under investigation.