Fallout from the October surprise

Story by Chris Graham

Don Michael doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.

“The way I look at it, board of supervisors races shouldn’t be about party politics anyway,” Michael told The Augusta Free Press.

“Does the fact that somebody is a Republican or a Democrat mean anything when it comes to a vote on the middle school? When it comes to the issues, it shouldn’t matter what party you’re for. What matters is how hard you’re willing to work to get things done,” Michael said.

Michael, the Republican nominee for the Pastures District seat on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, was defending himself from charges that he has misrepresented himself as a “lifelong Republican” in responses to questions raised by two local media organizations – including the AFP – following the publication of a letter to the editor that alleged that Michael hosted a fund-raiser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Warner two years ago.

Michael admitted that he hosted the fund-raiser – which also benefitted his opponent in this fall’s Pastures District race, Democrat Tracy Pyles, who ran unsuccessfully in 2001 for the Virginia House of Delegates.

But he denied allegations from the Pyles’ camp that he was part of the Pyles for Delegate campaign inner circle – in the face of a seeming preponderance of evidence to the contrary, including a videotape made available to the AFP of a mock debate from September 2001 in which Michael was part of a group helping to prepare Pyles for a debate with Republican House of Delegates candidate Chris Saxman.

Augusta County Democratic Committee chairman Frank Nolen brought the matter to the attention of The News-Leader on Monday.

Now Nolen is concerned that his involvement in bringing the issue to the public’s attention could have a negative effect on his own campaign for the open county treasurer job.

“It might take away from the numbers of Republicans who cross over and vote for me next Tuesday. I understand that. But I felt it was my obligation to do what I did. If it ends up hurting me, that’s just one of those things,” Nolen told the AFP on Wednesday.

Nolen backed up statements made by Pyles for a story published in the Wednesday-morning edition of the AFP regarding Michael’s alleged active involvement in Democratic Party matters in recent years.

“If he’s a lifelong Republican, then he was a double agent, because he was right there with us,” Nolen said.

Augusta County Republican Committee chairman Kurt Michael declined comment for this story when contacted by the AFP.



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