Colgan’s decision surprised his colleagues, many of whom had given up hope that Republicans could muster the 21 votes needed in the equally divided chamber. Word of Colgan’s decision, which brought the budget plan back to the Senate floor, led senators to summon Sen. Harry B. Blevins (R-Chesapeake) back to the Capitol for the vote. But they couldn’t reach Blevins, who had left Richmond by car to tend to his sick wife, so State Police put out an all-points bulletin for him. Blevins was flown back to the hospital after Wednesday’s vote.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) blamed Democrats for delaying the budget as they sought more power in the chamber and more funding for their priorities. The governor thanked Colgan, the longest-serving state senator in Virginia history, for his vote.
“It took the courage and the statesmanship of one Democratic senator, Chuck Colgan, to secure this outcome for the good of the citizens of Virginia,’’ McDonnell said.
Senate Democrats had held up the budget for weeks as they fought aggressively for an additional $300 million for the extension of Metrorail to Dulles International Airport.
Colgan’s vote floored his colleagues.
“He didn’t tell us anything,” said Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax). Normally game to hold forth for the media, Saslaw had little to say, walking directly from the Capitol to the General Assembly office building without stopping to talk to reporters, who trailed him to the building. “I thought we’d do better than we did.”
Colgan, 85, said he signed off on the compromise — even though it meant bucking his own party and giving up on money to the Dulles rail project — in part because he had second thoughts Tuesday night after voting “nay.”
He said he pondered the implications of not having a spending plan. “That really got inside me,” he said.
Corey A. Stewart, the Republican chairman of the Prince William