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My Humble Tribute to Senator Colgan

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.


About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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