Continued from page 1

But Mr. Saslaw hinted the door was open to more talks.

We’d be open to less than $300 million, he said he told Mr. McDonnell of the Dulles rail funding. Heck, the governor could even outline the terms and conditions.

A change of heart

On Wednesday morning, legislators gathered for “veto session,” an annual exercise in which the assembly considers the governor’s vetoes and amendments.

But the previous night’s vote cast a pall over the session.

Mr. McDonnell sent another letter to Mr. Colgan, this one addressed to him alone. The governor made a simple appeal to the World War II veteran and aviation entrepreneur who had publicly heeded Mr. McDonnell’s call for civility in the divided chamber. It was Mr. Colgan — coaxed on more than one occasion to run again when he had been contemplating retirement — who delivered an impassioned speech on the Senate floor March 8, telling his colleagues in both parties to quit their petty fights and animosity and get a budget done.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is not like it used to be,” Mr. Colgan said. “Never can I recall a time, in my 37 years on this floor, have I ever seen so much animosity or heard so much criticism.”

“I remember something Winston Churchill once said,” he continued, “‘A politician is one who is concerned about the next election. A statesman is one who is concerned about the next generation.’ We should be concerned about the next generation.”

Literally three paragraphs, the letter Mr. McDonnell sent to Mr. Colgan on Wednesday repeated much of what the governor said Tuesday and again pledged his support for the Dulles rail project.

The Senate gaveled in at 11:55 a.m. and recessed at 11:57 a.m. A tentative deal to shift some money from the “caboose budget” closing out the current fiscal year and away from other Northern Virginia transportation projects toward Dulles rail was approached, then abandoned.

Corey A. Stewart, the Republican chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, called Mr. Colgan that morning. He urged him to vote for the budget. Mr. Colgan also spoke with Delegate Lacey E. Putney, Bedford independent who has served in the House for more than 50 years.

The Senate reconvened at 2:50. It recessed again at 2:51.

Talks broke down.

Mr. Norment didn’t say exactly when Mr. Colgan approached him to tell him he had reconsidered and would deliver the decisive vote in favor of the budget. The only problem was that, by the time he did, Republicans were one vote short.

The decisive vote

Story Continues →