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Chuck Colgan Hints At Retirement

By Greg L | 24 February 2010 | 29th VA Senate | 16 Comments

Once again speculation runs rampant about whether Senator Chuck Colgan will seek re-election.  This familiar discussion is refueled by comments reported in the Virginian-Pilot and replayed at Virginia Virtucon that disclose health concerns may force Senator Colgan to retire from public service.  This is not at all the retirement scenario Prince William County Republicans were hoping for, but the prospect of an open seat in the 29th Senate District immediately following redistricting is certainly enticing.  There’s even a possibility that an opening could develop before then, so may the scrambling begin in earnest.

There’s nothing that particularly prevents Colgan from stepping down before the 2011 elections, since Democrats hold a two seat advantage on the Senate and a flip in the 29th District wouldn’t by itself change the balance of power there.  That’s an awfully thin margin however, and Democrats wouldn’t relish the idea of depending on having nothing happen in the Senate makeup between now and November of 2011.  Something always seems to happen, and a thin margin can easily shift if just one Senator runs for a different office, retires for some reason, or manages to land a cabinet position with the McDonnell administration.  While it will be hard even under usual circumstances to browbeat Colgan into staying in place until 2011, there still isn’t an absolutely convincing argument for Dick Saslaw to make that the balance of power is in absolute jeopardy if he retires mid-term, it’s simply in potential jeopardy.  But it always is with a two seat advantage.

Bob Fitzsimmonds seems eager to take on Colgan again if the opportunity arises, and if this seat is vacated I’m pretty sure he’d jump at the chance to run for it.  Delegate Jackson Miller is also mentioned as a likely contender for this seat.  That would set up a very interesting primary, pitting folks who were on opposite sides in the 2006 50th District Primary against each other in a rematch that’s sure to be entertaining to political observers, at the very least.  In such a matchup, Jackson Miller would likely have the advantage given his experience and consistent record of electoral victory, something that has doggedly eluded Fitzsimmonds.  A battle between the two would center on who could gain the support of the activist conservative base, and in this Fitzsimmonds might find the daylight needed to be competitive, but at the same time Fitzsimmonds would have to effectively counter the pretty compelling narrative that he’s run for this seat three times and lost.

There’s a slight possibility that Bob Marshall might be interested in the seat, but I think he has his eyes set on something different.  Gainesville Supervisor John Stirrup could probably be convinced to run, but only if there were concerns that no conservatives were running for the Republican nomination, and that’s not likely here.  Depending on how redistricting is done, he might be tapped for the House of Delegates instead.  Brentsville Supervisor Wally Covington seems content where he is.  That’s pretty much the list of potential candidates with current experience in elected office.

On the Democrat side, there’s Bruce Roemmelt and Jeanette Rishell, and perhaps some relative unknowns that might step up, or someone could move into the District.  This would be a really tough district for a Democrat to win, even if they had a strong candidate, and there just aren’t a whole lot of them (or arguably any) in this part of the county.

If the seat opens up before the 2011 elections, Miller has an easy choice here, and if somehow he didn’t win in a special election, he’d still have his House seat.  If Colgan holds out until 2011, then Miller has to choose whether he runs for the 50th House District or the 29th Senate District, and that would put the 50th House District into play.  There are a lot of strong potential candidates to succeed Jackson Miller in the 50th, but unfortunately the only one mentioned very much is Sheryl Bass, who despite her broad appeal has a rather suspect grasp on her City Council job and appears to mouth conservative principles as more of a convenience than an actual conviction.  Andy Harrover (a fine pick) isn’t interested in the job, Marc Aveni (a great pick) isn’t saying “no”, but would need some serious pushing to run for this, and as far as other potentially excellent picks like former Mayor Doug Waldron, they’re not saying anything about this.  Unless 50th District residents want Bass to get the Republican nod by default, they better start encouraging a few conservatives to get ready.

On the Democrat side in the 50th, the likely candidate would be Kermit Dance.  Rishell has worn out her welcome, and is done.  I can’t imagine any Democrats wanting to see her name on a ballot again in the district.

Any Republican winning the 29th Senate District would have the option of staying in that seat for as long as they want to hold it in all likelihood, and that makes it an awfully attractive race to jump into when the seat opens up.  That’s going to make this race one of the most expensive and hard-fought election battles in Virginia.

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  1. Ayn Rand IS Right said on 24 Feb 2010 at 5:37 pm:
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    Could you imagine a 4th Miller/Rishell Match-up for the Senate?

    Carroll Weimer is a possible to run for delegate if Jackson took the Senate seat.

    Doesn’t Fairfax CWA Horan’s son live in Manassas? He’s a potential Dem contender.

    I agree with your analysis on Fitz running again. Tough sell.

  2. Ronald said on 24 Feb 2010 at 5:48 pm:
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    Is there a Democrat anywhere in the county who would be competitive? (lets say they were willing to move)

  3. Big Dog said on 24 Feb 2010 at 9:28 pm:
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    Don’t forget current Manassas Mayor Hal Parrish.
    He, like his father, is a strong old school fiscal conservative
    and well respected by the vast majority of city residents.

  4. Non-e-moose said on 24 Feb 2010 at 10:23 pm:
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    Mayor Parrish would be a contender for either seat.

  5. NoVA Scout said on 24 Feb 2010 at 10:27 pm:
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    Colgan would have quit long ago if the Republicans had run a decent (in all senses of the word) candidate. I very much doubt, however, that he could bring himself to leave the district to someone like Bob FitzSimmonds. How many times can FitzSimmonds lose this one? Is there a limit? Should there be?

  6. Anonymous said on 24 Feb 2010 at 10:56 pm:
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    NoVA Scout is dead on..

  7. AndyH said on 25 Feb 2010 at 8:57 am:
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    Thanks for mentioning my name but you’re right; I’m not really interested. I’ve got a school-aged kid and, while the Council takes a lot of time, I do get to go home at night. I really enjoy time at home. Maybe some day in the future…..I honestly don’t know how guys like Miller do it.

    I’m kind of surprised that there aren’t more seriously interested parties from the County R’s…the majority of the people in this district are in the County….

  8. Kevin C said on 25 Feb 2010 at 10:56 am:
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    “Sen. Colgan has a reputation for hard work, honesty and looking out for the ‘little guys,’” says a biography on the Prince William County Democratic Committee’s Web site.

    This quote in the local rag MUST be some kind of mis-communication?

    They must have meant Colgan IS a little guy because I know, from EXPERIENCE, he is not FOR the little guy !!

    In any event, I hope he doesn’t turn into the Va Senate version of Brett Favre, RETIRING one day then RUNNING the next !!

    He is LONG overdue for retirement !!!!

  9. Silent Knight said on 25 Feb 2010 at 11:30 am:
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    I think this is the 3rd time Colgan has been through this dance, saying he won’t run for re-election then running for re-election. This time could be different if there are real health issues. There are certainly some strong Democrats, maybe not elected officials and maybe not party activists, (which might make them more appealing candidates to the voters in the 29th), in the district as it’s currently drawn but where the new lines will be is unknown. The press account I read included a comment from Colgan that the district would be hard for any Democrat other than himself to win - - not a comment likely to please Dems but typical of Colgan.

  10. More yikes!!!! said on 25 Feb 2010 at 3:10 pm:
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    If Andy ran for the seat I’d vote for him in a second. He’s a real family man and a real small business owner. I like that he speaks the truth about what he thinks even when it’s not easy. A stand up guy who watches out for the regular folks at home even when the going is tough. He doesn’t tend to get confused about what is best for our home town. I respect his determination not to run. I like his judgement and will pay close attention to who he chooses to support.

  11. Love the U.S.A. said on 25 Feb 2010 at 7:31 pm:
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    Colgan doesn’t want to be in Richmond and hasn’t for years. He doesn’t even try to hide it. I find very hard to beleive he would run again, the man has to be at least 87 years old.

  12. think about it said on 25 Feb 2010 at 7:44 pm:
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    If The Fitzmiester wants to be the Repub State Sen. why in the heck didnt he even purchase at least a 1/4 page add in the P.W.C.G.O.P. fundraiser brochure book at the only fundraiser the committee has, last friday night?

    Stirrup/Miller/Marshall/ among others paid for full page adds to help the Committee. Fitz purchased zip,zero,nada. He is a tired old retread who never helps the party or a candidate unless he thinks it will benefit him a great deal personally.

  13. Miller is the one said on 26 Feb 2010 at 10:43 am:
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    Miller is the best choice - all you pro-lifers and Ken C. would do well to recall Fitzsimmons choice to back Gilmore over Marshall for the us senate primary a few years ago, what a slap that was to the pro-life cause, also be honest, Fitzsimmons can’t win, too many moderates and some conservatives even like Bob Marshall don’t support him, let’s not blow this one please, get behind Miller and let’s win let Fitz stay at the court house

  14. Oh No! said on 26 Feb 2010 at 4:39 pm:
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    Surprised no one has mentioned the obvious dark horse candidate: Steve “pimp my house” Chapman.

  15. Greg L said on 26 Feb 2010 at 4:48 pm:
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    Here’s a name for 50th that I heard today: Mark Wolfe. While everyone is talking about how they can’t afford to run for HOD, apparently Wolfe is pretty eager to try.

  16. James Young said on 27 Feb 2010 at 5:44 pm:
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    NoVA Scout demonstrates his typical ignorance and contempt for anyone who doesn’t meet (whatever) his standards (are), characteristically using the occasion to trash a dependable Conservative. Dave Mabie ran for this seat a few years ago, and couldn’t win either.

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