The Rumor Mill | Pyles, Curren and the 20th

I’m hearing in bits and pieces that Tracy Pyles, the Pied Piper of the reassessment opposition in Augusta County, made a late inquiry into what he would need to do to get in the contest for the Democratic Party nomination in the 20th House District, and that he isn’t entirely behind the man who ended up getting the nomination, Erik Curren of Staunton.

And when I say late, I mean, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, that the inquiry came a day or two before the filing deadline. Curren had already ramped up a campaign that was by then several weeks old by that point, and has impressed me to date with the foundation that it has been putting down to make a serious run at incumbent Republican Chris Saxman.

That’s part one of this Rumor Mill report. Part two is that The Rumor Mill also has it that Democratic Party leaders in the 20th are a bit upset with Pyles, the Pastures District supervisor, for an e-mail in which he appeared to try to discourage Curren once he had secured the nomination from continuing with his run.

I’ve been made privy to the contents of the e-mail, and I’m not sure I take it 100 percent the same way as it has been framed to me, but I do agree that the matter does come across to me as curious at the least.

Not to mention that it’s not good news at all for the Curren campaign. My thinking is that Curren would stand to benefit from having the support of Pyles in his bid to unseat Saxman, who won the 20th District seat in 2001 in a race with Pyles and also beat back the challenge of current Staunton City Councilman Bruce Elder in 2005.

Both Elder and Pyles had support in the mid-30s in their runs at Saxman, but I think Pyles might have a better standing among voters in the Augusta County precincts today because of his fight against the Augusta County Board of Supervisors majority on the reassessments earlier this year. I don’t know that it would be enough to throw the county precincts in the direction of Curren were Pyles to actively back Curren in the general election, but I don’t know that Curren needs to win a majority in the county to put together a winning coalition.

My reasoning on that – I see Curren as being able to roll up a possible strong majority in Staunton if he can tap into the voter sentiment that also gave Barack Obama and Mark Warner clear majorities in the Queen City in 2008, and at least a chance to break even up in Bridgewater in Rockingham County, which gave Mark Warner a 55 percent majority in the ’08 election.

A strong majority in Staunton and something approximating a 50-50 split in Bridgewater, which combined comprise roughly half the population in the 20th, means Saxman has to run up solid majorities in particular in the Augusta and Rockingham precincts outside of the two population centers to be able to hold on to his seat.

If Curren can get to, say, 40 percent in the rural parts of the 20th, I think he’s the new delegate representing the district in Richmond. There’s no guarantee that Pyles can help Curren get there, but I’m wondering aloud here if Curren can do it without Pyles, normally quite bombastic, which could make his silence if he were to remain on the sidelines in the general that much more deafening.


– Story by Chris Graham

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