David Suetterlein, Ralph Smith
By Lynn R. Mitchell
On Monday Ralph Smith sent out an email stating: “Senator Smith announces he will not seek a third term … 19th District Senator endorses Legislative Director and Roanoke County GOP Chairman Dave Suetterlein to succeed him in Senate.”
An announcement of retirement in one breath and the endorsement of his aide in the next? With some feeling blindsided, the news spread throughout the district that a behind-closed-doors deal had apparently been made between the senator and his legislative aide who had held no prior public office. He had previously worked for Ken Cuccinelli before joining the senator’s staff.
Suetterlein, chairman of the Roanoke County Republican Committee, had mentioned nothing to his committee members about running. Smith had not communicated to constituents a wish to retire. No candidates had filed because they thought Smith was running for re-election. While it is understandable to groom people for positions, it is usually more transparent and above-board.