Two-day showdown ends tortuous Va. budget standoff

Senator wrestled with decision to break ranks

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Sen. Harry B. Blevins, Chesapeake Republican, was on the Senate floor when he got the text message from his daughter saying his wife, in a hospital 100 miles away because of a heart condition, was not responding to medication. He left the Capitol immediately.

The Republican leadership needed Mr. Blevins but was unable to reach him. They could wait another day for him to return. That would cost taxpayers $40,000 to keep lawmakers in session and also give Democrats, apparently still unaware of Mr. Colgan’s decision, more time to circle the wagons and again lock down his vote.

Mr. Norment opted for something else. He enlisted the Virginia State Police to help track down Mr. Blevins, get him back into the chamber and quickly vote, lest the best laid plans once more go awry.

“We just worked it through the various relationships that we have,” he said of the police assistance. “I would suggest that they have a vested interest.”

Mr. Blevins was eventually alerted by an aide that he was needed back at the Capitol, so he returned. He left his car near the building and dashed into the chamber.

At 4:25 p.m., the Senate reconvened.

Mr. Colgan moved to reconsider the budget. It passed, 21-19. And the body went back into recess at 4:30 p.m. Mr. Blevins was flown in a state police helicopter back to the hospital after the vote — a $1,530 expense that no one is challenging. Mr. Norment and Mr. McDonnell lauded Mr. Colgan for his leadership.

Democrats, their ranks broken, were stunned. They had lost on the budget and they had secured nothing more on Dulles rail. They retreated into a caucus meeting.

Within an hour of the vote, Mr. Colgan had left the grounds.

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