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Senators present indomitable Colgan with gavel from marathon session

Rosalind Helderman

Remember U.S. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and his gavel? (Dingell, Congress' longest-serving member, lent the gavel he used to preside over Congress' approval of Medicare in 1965 to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to preside over the House's recent health-care vote. He's been taking the gavel to public appearances ever since, including a recent one on the Daily Show.)

Now Virginia Sen. Chuck Colgan (D-Prince William), the state Senate's longest-serving member, will have a gavel of his own.

Colgan presided over Wednesday's marathon one-day legislative session, which did not adjourn until 9:45 p.m. He was called to the rostrum after Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R), the Senate's usual presiding officer, got stuck at an economic development conference in Florence, unable to fly back to the United States because of flight cancellations due to ash from the Icelandic volcano.

Colgan, 83, got rave reviews all around for his endurance and steady hand at the helm of the Senate, and at the conclusion of the night was awarded the gavel he used for the day as a gift from his colleagues.

"I want to start by commending Senator Colgan for an extraordinary job today presiding over the Senate's unprecedented action with an Icelandic volcano keeping the lieutenant governor away. First time in decades and decades something like that has happened," Gov. Bob McDonnell told reporters at a late-night news conference.

As senators concluded their action late Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) strode up to the podium and presented Colgan with the giant hammer. Colgan held it aloft victoriously and announced, "God bless Bill Bolling, wherever you are."

And where is Bolling? We are told by his office that his flight from Italy took off as scheduled today and that he was to arrive at Washington Dulles International Airport late this afternoon.

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By Rosalind Helderman  |  April 22, 2010; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  Bill Bolling , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  | Tags: Bill Bolling  
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