Former 22nd District Senator Brandon Bell
UPDATED: 6:20 p.m. in BOLD.
Call it a rematch or just another candidate announcement prospect but this may be the most interesting race in our area for 2011. Former Republican State Senator Brandon Bell is challenging Republican Senator Ralph Smith in the 19th district.
In a phone call with Brandon Bell, who was traveling on business he said, “it is highly likely that I will run.” He is preparing to put together his committee and gather signatures he said. Bell is running as an Independent.
There was a rumor that he might run several weeks ago but he had to get approval. Bell works for a broker-dealer who had to approve any activity outside of his financial securities firm. He received that approval just a few days ago. He can now “pursue this as an outside venture.”
“There are a lot of interesting challenges when you start looking at things from an Independent perspective,” he said. That is why it has taken him so long to come to his decision.
Bell said, “he doesn’t foresee anything that will prevent him from running at this point though nothing is 100 percent.” He’s still exploring possibilities for a campaign manager and staff.
Being a Republican all his life it is a big step for him. As an Independent he feels that in the current political climate it is an advantage. He will “represent all the people in the 19th district and their needs regardless of party.”
He gradually came to his decision after seeing that no one else was challenging Senator Smith. “Once they pulled out the U-Haul and moved everyone around it started me thinking,” he said.
If Bill Stanley had stayed in the 19th district he would have supported him said Bell. He was not recruited he said but has fielded many requests to run. “I made up my own mind … I became more and more encouraged that it might be a two-way race,” said Bell.
Roanoke Attorney John Lichtenstein who said earlier that he was contemplating a run as a Democrat in the 19th district did not return phone calls.
In 1991 Bell represented Roanoke’s 21st District before losing to current Democrat John Edwards in 1995.
In 2003, Bell was elected in the redrawn 22nd Senate District. Now the 22nd district is no more and Smith moved to run in the 19th district where Bell is a resident. Bell said, that the precincts that were moved from the 22nd district to the 19th district he won by eight percent in 2007 against Smith. The precincts included Salem, Montgomery County and Roanoke County.
Smith in 2007 moved to Bell’s 22nd district and set out to take Bell’s senate seat. Smith in the June 12, 2007 Republican primary won over Bell by 75 votes a one-percentage point margin.
Smith by moving into the 19th district pushed Senator Bill Stanley to the 20th district in a Republican strategy to take over the Virginia Senate. Governor McDonnell is supporting Stanley in his challenge against Democrat incumbent Roscoe Reynolds.
Bell later broke with Republicans endorsing Creigh Deeds for governor in 2009 then switched his endorsement to McDonnell two weeks before the election. He endorsed Bob McDonnell over Deeds for Attorney General in 2005.
Governor Tim Kaine appointed Bell to Radford University Board of Visitors in 2008.
He is President and owner of Bell Wealth Management a personal financial services consulting firm in Roanoke. Bell lives in Roanoke County with his wife, Debbie and their two children.
Posted By Valerie Garner
Categories: Election 2011, Elections, Politics, State Politics
Tags: Breaking News, Election 2011, Elections, Independent, state_senate