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Tyler drops out of mayor’s race; new poll shows Morrissey leading

Jeremy Lazarus | 9/30/2016, 7:31 p.m.
A candidate for Richmond mayor dropped out Tuesday in a bid to help derail the acknowledged frontrunner, former Delegate Joseph ...
A candidate for Richmond mayor dropped out Tuesday in a bid to help derail the acknowledged frontrunner, former Delegate Joseph D. “Joe” Morrissey.

A candidate for Richmond mayor dropped out Tuesday in a bid to help derail the acknowledged frontrunner, former Delegate Joseph D. “Joe” Morrissey.

Bruce W. Tyler, an architect and former member of Richmond City Council, announced he is ending his campaign after failing to gain traction with voters and recognizing he could end up at the bottom of the eight-way race.

While he appears to be too late to have his name removed from the ballot, Mr. Tyler indicated he was concerned that whatever votes he might secure would reduce the total for a more viable candidate, though he did not indicate a preference.

An Aug. 30 poll from Christopher Newport University indicated Mr. Morrissey, an attorney, is leading in five City Council districts, the minimum number needed to win the race outright.

In a poll the Richmond Association of Realtors released Tuesday, Mr. Morrissey was shown to be leading in six districts and Jack Berry, retired executive director of Venture Richmond, leading in three — the 1st, 2nd and 4th.

Mr. Berry recently opened a 7th District office in a bid to make inroads there against Mr. Morrissey and his other rivals.

Behind the scenes, “Never Joe” advocates have been urging some candidates to consider dropping out so that they can coalesce around one candidate who might be able to limit Mr. Morrissey to four districts and force a runoff.

The poll from the Realtors group, which has endorsed Mr. Berry, indicated that the 3rd and 5th districts are the battlegrounds, where Mr. Morrissey holds a narrow lead over Mr. Berry, with the rest of the field trailing well behind.

Under the rules, if no candidate wins in at least five council districts in the Nov. 8 election, the top two vote getters would face off in a runoff election in December.

At this point, the published polls show Mr. Morrissey and Mr. Berry have the highest percentage of voter support citywide.

One person who was viewed as a potential block to Mr. Morrissey is businesswoman and City Council President Michelle R. Mosby. Mr. Berry and others believed she could hold her home base, the 9th District in South Side. But the Realtors poll indicates she is running a distant second to Mr. Morrissey in that district.

Ms. Mosby indicated in an interview with the Free Press that she has no intentions of dropping out of the mayor’s race.

Mr. Tyler’s action could put pressure on 1st District Councilman Jonathan T. Baliles, an insurance broker who has yet to catch fire with voters. According to the polling, Mr. Baliles does not lead in any district, including the one he represents.

In a Free Press interview, Mr. Baliles said he would not be pressured to drop out, but might consider it if he could not see a path to victory and decided “it would be in the best interest of the city.”

Meanwhile, Levar Stoney, former state secretary of the commonwealth, has found himself struggling despite raising far and away the most money and securing the backing of the Richmond Democratic Committee in a city considered a Democratic stronghold.