Commissioner's chief deputy to run for Clerk of Court
Eric Schmudde to challenge GOP's Tina Sinnen for $114,00/year job

Eric Schmudde, chief deputy Commissioner of the Revenue since 1997, has tossed his hat into the ring to be the Democrat's candidate for Virginia Beach Clerk of Court.

A native Tennessean, Schmudde received his BA in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 1984; a MBA in 1990 from the College of William and Mary.  Prior to joining the commissioner's office, Schmudde worked as a marketing analyst with The Forbes Group, Inc., Charlottesville; and a business analyst for Business Support Systems of Chesapeake.

His boss, Commissioner of the Revenue Phil Kellam, said, "I am four-square behind him."

Last Saturday when the Republicans held a primary to select their candidate, Steve Owen, another Democrat backed by Kellam came in 2nd, but a distant 2nd in a four-way race won by current chief deputy Clerk of Court Tina Sinnen.  Owen, magistrate here for 9 years, beat out staunch Republicans Jim Totin and former city councilman Jim Brazier.  Brazier had the endorsement of Virginia Beach's senior State Sen. Ken Stolle and his brother Colin, chairman of the Republican City Committee.

Owens showing and Sinnen's win represented a rank and file repudiation of the Republican party machinery and control.  Most of the GOP's women and a large contingent of Filipinos (Sinnen has heritage links to the Philippine community) turned out to push her over the top.

In addition, a number of voters turned out specifically to vote against Stolle-backed Brazier.  "Numerous votes were negative votes against Brazier because he had support of the Stolle boys, said one observer."

Kellam said he expects Schmudde to get the Democrat Party's backing Saturday morning following a formal announcement of his candidacy.

The election will determine to what extent the GOP is fragmenting.  There has been growing discontent for the past three (3) years over the party's leadership and tactics of having the elected officials, not the party rank and file, make campaign candidate and policy decisions.

Wally Erb, a long time Republican activist and manpower specialist for a defense contractor, is also considering seeking the clerk's job as an independent.  Erb is circulating his petition to get on the ballot, but he said he is not totally committed to running.  He expects to make a final decision later, he said.

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