Many years ago (okay it was 1987 or 1989!), I campaigned hard (well, I quickly asked the local bar – the lawyers association – president if I could and no one else wanted to do it!) to make a speech at an event in the relatively new baseball stadium in Prince William County to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Constitution and I made a great speech but only a handful of people came because of rain. (It was about 13 and I joked that I was used to speaking to small groups – they’re called juries!)
After the speech (I spoke on how the Warren Court helped make the Bill of Rights come to life) a besuited older man came up to me and said: That was a wonderful speech – best one here today – or something like that. Gee, thanks I said as I shook his hand.
And that is how I met Senator Charles “Chuck” Colgan.
I always liked and admired Senator Colgan – if I had had a favorite Democrat award in 1989 or even 1995 or so it would have been given to Colgan. He was one of the last of his kind – the conservative Democrat. While Colgan had some flaws in policy – mostly I am told he was not careful on spending (but many Republicans are bad on that too!) he was a statesman of honor and dignity.
I was actually going to run against Senator Colgan – I made noises in 1995 and would have been more determined in 1999 but the GOP reaction was tepid at best. Of course hard to win the seat. I knew that. But I think many Republicans liked and admired the senator. I was also determined to run a clean campaign. A campaign of ideas. But I took the Appellate Defender’s job instead and moved to Hanover.
I did not see Senator Colgan often after I moved to Richmond – he greeted me on the street once or twice – but when I ran for district court judge two or three years ago I made a point to make an appointment to see the senator. I really wanted to see him once more before he retired.
Senator Colgan gave me a warm greeting and asked me how I could help him. I said my intention to run for judge and if he was asked in the Democrat caucus maybe he’d put in a good word for me. The senator carefully explained he stayed out of judgeship elections not affecting his district but if asked he’d help. I was grateful for any help.
I miss Senator Colgan. Prayers will go out at this home for Senator Colgan’s family in this time of loss.