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My Humble Tribute to Senator Colgan

Sunday, January 8, 2017 10:43
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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.

Article written by: Elwood “Sandy” Sanders


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