augusta free press news

Local Politics: Saxman to White House, Sayre to House?

Story by Chris Graham

Provocative headline, yes, and no, there’s not much more than conjecture behind it. But this is among the things being talked about in local politics circles.

It came up most recently with me in a conversation with a local elected official yesterday when I mentioned that I was hearing that Scott Sayre, who challenged Sen. Emmett Hanger in a Republican Party primary in the 24th District last spring and came away with a near-upset, was gearing up for another run at Hanger in 2011.

“I’m hearing House of Delegates,” I was told, and then the scenario was laid out that I described above, that would involve first and foremost Saxman, who is serving as the co-chair of the John McCain Virginia campaign, leaving for Washington to serve in some role in a McCain administration, then Sayre moving from Rockbridge County to a location in the 20th House District, which includes Staunton, portions of Augusta and Rockingham and all of Highland County, to run in a special election for that House seat.

I don’t know that the idea that this could happen is so farfetched. I mean, right now, with McCain trailing Obama in a Washington Post-ABC News poll by nine points this morning, that might be the biggest hurdle to overcome for this to happen. Another would be Saxman’s role in the family business, Shenandoah Valley Water Co., and his family roots here in the Valley that would probably have to be uprooted to take a post in D.C.

That said, Saxman would seem to be in good standing for a kick upstairs. To his credit, he was on the McCain bandwagon before most everybody else in his party, signing on as the McCain Virginia chair last year when McCain was at best a middle-of-the-pack candidate in a crowded GOP presidential field. Those who take those kinds of early stands in a nomination process are usually rewarded in some way, and for Saxman, seen as an up-and-comer in the Virginia GOP to the point where he’s been talked about as a future statewide-office candidate, it wouldn’t be a bad thing at all to have a couple of years of experience in Washington to add to his resume.

Brighter days appear to be in store for Sayre as well. His ’07 primary loss notwithstanding, he was thisclose to knocking off a powerful incumbent who eventually won re-election with nearly two-thirds of the votes cast in a three-way race and has himself been talked about as a statewide-office candidate in the future. Sayre has a strong business base in the Central Shenandoah Valley, so a move to the 20th wouldn’t be out of line, and he would have to be considered a favorite in a special election in a district that has been solid red since it was created in the most recent legislative redistricting in 2000-2001.

As you can tell from my rendering of this story item, I didn’t think it necessary to call Saxman or Sayre for comment on this. A lot has to happen before the scenario can unfold the way it has been laid out for me, and it would be pointless to do much more than conjecture at this point in time.