For several weeks there have been hints that Roanoke Attorney John Lichtenstein was being courted to be the Democratic challenger to Republican Senator Ralph Smith. Lichtenstein lives in Roanoke County in the 19th Senate district.
In a phone call, Lichtenstein would neither confirm nor deny his intentions, leaving the door open for a good dose of speculation. He’s “just not ready yet to make any public comment,” he said. As of today other Democrats have confirmed the possibility.
Senator Smith’s 22nd district was eliminated during redistricting. Musical chairs commenced with Senator Bill Stanley being shuffled to the 20th district, where he takes on Democrat Roscoe Reynolds. This made room for Smith in the 19th district. Smith had no intention of being gerrymandered out of office. He moved to Bent Mountain to be in the 19th district and so far has had no opposition. That may change if Lichtenstein decides to enter the race.
The new 19th district includes Franklin County, Floyd County, Roanoke County and part of southern Bedford County and Smith Mountain Lake.
Lichtenstein is a well known and respected attorney, even by his Republican colleagues. The district tips the scale in rural voters but some think Smith is vulnerable.
At Saturday’s Republican mass meeting, Smith wielded a preemptive strike upon learning of a possible opponent. Saying of his potential opponent [Lichtenstein] while not directly mentioning him by name, “What is a Philadelphia lawyer going to say to the Floyd County voters” and “How are they going to understand his style in Wythe County?”
Lichtenstein is a founding member of Lichtenstein Fishwick PLC. He has a word of mouth reputation and represents individuals throughout Virginia. He is listed as one of the Top 50 lawyers in Virginia. He is also listed in the Virginia Legal Elite, as published by Virginia Business Magazine.
He argued the case for Roanoke pain specialist Cecil Byron. With his partner John Fishwick, he also successfully defended Former National D-Day Memorial Foundation President Richard Burrow.