Coleman, Eric D.

District towns: Bloomfield, Windsor and Hartford

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Election history: Coleman won an open Senate seat in 1994. He succeeded Democrat Thirman L. Milner, an iconic politician who had been elected as Hartford’s first black mayor in 1981. To win the Democratic nomination, Coleman had to defeat Milner’s  chosen successor, Carrie Saxon Perry, in a primary.

Coleman previously won six terms in the House of Representatives, beginning in 1982.

2008 general election:

Veronica Airey-Wilson (R) 8,123 23 percent
Eric D. Coleman (D) 24,478 69 percent
Eric D. Coleman (WF) 2,843 8 percent

Public financing: Coleman and Airey-Wilson each received $85,000 in public financing for their campaigns under the Citizens’ Election Program.

Each returned a surplus: Coleman, $2,313.64; Airey-Wilson, $553.63.

Background: Only two current legislators have longer service than Coleman, who was first elected to the General Assembly as a House candidate on a Democratic ticket led by Gov.William A. O’Neill. He rose to deputy speaker in the House but seniority has not meant a high profile for Coleman in the Senate, where every Democrat is a committee co-chair or leader.

In the Senate, he was appointed in 2001 to one of the key committee assignments, co-chair of judiciary. Coleman was the first African American to hold the post, but he lost the co-chair after backing the wrong candidate in a leadership fight.

In early 2009, Coleman did put himself at the center of a rare effort to deny reappointment to a Superior Court judge, Patricia Swords. Some defense lawyers accused her of favoring prosecutors, and Coleman had his own conflict with the judge. Six years earlier, Swords had jailed one of Coleman’s clients for a technical violation of a restraining order, an action overturned by the Appellate Court. The lieutenant governor had to break an 18-18 tie to save Swords’ career.

Coleman also has repeatedly spoken out about the pace of bringing diversity to the bench.

Coleman resides in Bloomfield. He is married and the father of three children.

Committees: Human Services, Judiciary, Planning and Development (co-chair), Public Health

Education: B.A., Columbia University; J.D., University of Connecticut School of Law

Occupation: Lawyer, private practice

2008 Financial Disclosure: Coleman reported income from his solo law practice in Hartford. His wife, Pamela L. Coleman, is employed by the community college system. They own their home in Bloomfield. They own no securities worth more than $5,000.

He is a director of the Greater Hartford Legal Aid Association and Humanidad, a non-profit provider of social services.

Coleman filed a confidential addendum listing any debts exceeding $10,000. He declined to release the addendum, as is his choice under the law.

A note on financial disclosure: Every spring, officials are required to disclose the ownership of real estate, the source of any income exceeding $1,000 in the previous calendar year and securities worth more than $5,000. They also are required to file an addendum in which they report any debt of more than $10,000; this may by law be kept confidential.