Sen. William Wampler, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee who has represented Southwest Virginia for more than two decades, will not run for re-election in November.
“Six terms is a long time,’’ Wampler said in a statement. “There have been many trips to Richmond and many nights away from home. There is a time for everything.”
Wampler, 51, made the announcement Friday morning.
Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City County) called the news “absolutely gargantuan” for the 18-member Republican caucus. “He is one of my dearest friends,’’ he said.
The news shocked many on both sides of the aisle, where he is highly regarded for his institutional memory and broad knowledge of the state budget.
“It would be a big loss to the state,’’ said Senate Majority Leader Richard Saslaw (R-Salaw) before the news was official. “He's extremely bright. He knows the budget forward and backward. I can't see it.”
Wampler has represented the Republican-leaning district that includes the counties of Dickenson, Lee, Scott, and Wise, part of Washington County, and the cities of Bristol and Norton since 1988. Wampler said he “looking forward to forward to resuming more of a private life of living and working here in the Great Southwest.”
His father, William Wampler, spent more than 15 years in Congress representing Southwest Virginia before being defeated by former Rep. Rick Boucher.
Democrats hold a narrow lead in the state Senate. The news is even more surprising because if Republicans take control in November, Wampler would have been in line to become chairman of the chamber’s most powerful committee.