Marshall Coleman

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Marshall Coleman
33rd Attorney General of Virginia
In office
January 14, 1978 – January 16, 1982
Preceded by Anthony F. Troy
Succeeded by Gerald L. Baliles
Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 24th district
In office
January 14, 1976 – December 2, 1977
Preceded by Frank W. Nolen
Succeeded by Frank W. Nolen
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 15th district
In office
November 29, 1972 – January 14, 1976
Preceded by O. Beverley Roller
Succeeded by Erwin S. Solomon
Personal details
Born John Marshall Coleman
(1942-06-08) June 8, 1942 (age 74)
Staunton, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Maureen Kelly
Alma mater University of Virginia
Religion Episcopalian
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1966–1969
Battles/wars Vietnam War

John Marshall Coleman (born June 8, 1942) is a Republican politician in Virginia who ran for several statewide offices between the late 1970s and early 1990s.


He graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A., in 1964, and J.D., in 1970. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1966 to 1969, including service in Vietnam.

He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, in the 15th District, which included the Counties of Augusta, Highland, and Bath; Cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, from November 29, 1972 to 1975.[1]

Coleman was elected Attorney General of Virginia in 1977, the first Republican to hold the office since Reconstruction, and was the GOP nominee for Governor of Virginia in 1981,[2] he lost to Democrat Charles S. "Chuck" Robb. Coleman again ran for office in 1985 seeking the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor. He ran second in a five way field losing to state Senator John Chichester, who later was defeated in the general election by Democrat L. Douglas Wilder. Coleman was the surprise Republican nominee for governor in 1989, having upset the heavily favored former U.S. Senator Paul S. Trible, Jr., in the GOP primary.[3] However, he came up short again in the general election, this time losing a very close election to Democrat L. Douglas Wilder, the first African-American ever elected governor of a U.S. state. Coleman was leading in certain polls until two days before the election, when a strong statement against abortion caused his popularity with female voters to drop. He also was portrayed as a flip-flopper, having radically changed his position on abortion and other topics several times. The media had also repeatedly portrayed Coleman as a "perennial candidate".

In 1994, Coleman ran for U.S. Senate as an independent, seeking to seize the middle ground between Robb, who had been elected to the Senate in 1988, and the GOP nominee, Oliver North. Coleman received the endorsement and support of Virginia's other U.S. Senator, Republican John Warner. Robb narrowly edged out North to win re-election. Coleman finished a distant third with 12% of the vote, despite Warner's support and widespread dislike among voters for North, who had been convicted on three felony counts, later overturned, for his role in the Iran-Contra Affair and Robb, who faced allegations of womanizing. Former First Lady Nancy Reagan openly opposed North in the election.


  1. ^ "Virginia House of Delegates: Session 1975: Coleman, J. Marshall". Commonwealth of Virginia. Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  2. ^ "Remarks at a Rally in Richmond, Virginia, for Gubernatorial CandidateMarshall Coleman". Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  3. ^ Ashley, Douglas (14 June 1989). "`Little People' Meant Win". The Daily Press. Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
Anthony F. Troy
Attorney General of Virginia
Succeeded by
Gerald L. Baliles