A poll commissioned by former Virginia state attorney general J. Marshall Coleman of McLean shows him more popular among voters than his two rivals for the Republican Party nomination for governor next year.
The survey of 404 voters showed Coleman -- who has not formally announced -- ahead of former Fairfax delegate Wyatt B. Durrette, a Richmond lawyer, and 8th District Rep. Stan Parris of Fairfax. Durrette and Parris are expected to announce for governor in a few weeks.
The poll, by the Republican polling firm of Arthur F. Finkelstein of New York, showed Coleman the favorite of 36 percent of the respondents who said they were Republicans, compared with 19.6 percent for Parris and 10.8 percent for Durrette. One-third of the Republicans said they were undecided.
Durrette and a spokesman for Parris dismissed the poll as essentially showing higher name recognition for Coleman. He served as state attorney general from 1978-82 and spent about $2.7 million in his unsuccessful 1981 campaign for governor against Democrat Charles S. Robb.
"My strength has always been with the workers, the rank and file of the Republican Party, the people who know all of us well," said Durrette. The Coleman poll showed that 48 percent of those surveyed had not heard of Durrette, compared with 47 percent for Parris and 15.1 percent for Coleman.
A Finkelstein poll in June showed Coleman ahead among general voters, as did an election eve poll by the Richmond Times Dispatch. The GOP nominees will be picked at a state convention in which popular support is only one measure of the candidates' ability to get delegate votes.
Those surveyed in the Coleman poll also preferred Coleman to twoDemocratic candidates, Lt. Gov. Richard J. Davis and Attorney General Gerald L. Baliles. He led Davis 48 to 17 percent with 34.9 percent undecided, and Baliles 48 to 12.9 percent with 38.9 percent undecided. The poll did not include Del. Richard J. Bagley of Hampton, a third Democratic candidate.