His "Joe's Back" slogan couldn't have been more prophetic.
Joe Morrissey's first campaign mailer, produced to announce his run for the 74th District House of Delegates seat, continues to garner attention from the State Board of Elections.
It's in the spotlight again because of its appearance in an enlarged photo that also featured State Sen. Benjamin Lambert III's granddaughter. It circulated at a recent meeting of the Richmond Crusade for Voters.
It seems that during a recent Crusade-sponsored Democratic primary debate, someone took a picture of 8-month-old Melania using Morrissey's campaign mailer as a makeshift pacifier.
Lambert supporters charge that the photographer or others decided to use the picture, without permission, as an election propaganda tool.
"This is definitely an election law violation," says Melania's dad, Benjamin Lambert IV, who doubles as his father's campaign manager. "You can't use just anybody's picture for any political reason."
Melania, arguably, is not just anybody in the context of this race. She's the granddaughter of one candidate, Sen. Lambert, and the niece of another, David Lambert, who's running for Donald McEachin's seat in the House of Delegates. McEachin is leaving the House to run for Sen. Lambert's seat.
In that race, McEachin's supporters are slamming Sen. Lambert for one of his mailers that pictures the senator with a woman named Sara Daves pledging her vote to him. Daves is identified as a community activist. What she's not identified as is a resident of another voting district, who will not be voting for Lambert or McEachin.
Meanwhile, Benjamin Lambert IV has filed an official election law complaint with the Henrico County commonwealth's attorney and is seeking to file a complaint against whoever was responsible for using his daughter's image as part of an official campaign without his parental consent.
Because he's uncertain of who took the picture, Benjamin Lambert IV says the complaint names Morrissey and the Richmond Crusade for Voters, as well McEachin.
"A lot of people thought it was underhanded," Lambert says. The pictures were placed on the sign-in table at the Crusade meeting, he says, where the organization endorsed McEachin for the state Senate and Floyd Miles for the House of Delegates.
Larger versions of the pictures were also given to Sen. Lambert at the meeting. The younger Lambert said presenting his father with the pictures during a meeting where he was denied an endorsement was a particularly "low blow."
Lambert IV says he gave the Morrissey flier to his daughter to distract her during the debate, when the picture was taken. SClick here for more News and Features