Gerald L. Baliles

Gerald L. Baliles
65th Governor of Virginia
In office
January 18, 1986  January 13, 1990
Lieutenant L. Douglas Wilder
Preceded by Charles S. Robb
Succeeded by L. Douglas Wilder
34th Attorney General of Virginia
In office
January 16, 1982  June 30, 1985
Preceded by J. Marshall Coleman
Succeeded by William G. Broaddus
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 35th district
In office
January 14, 1976  January 13, 1982
Preceded by Howard H. Carwile
Succeeded by Charles Hardaway Marks
Personal details
Born Gerald Lee Baliles
(1940-07-08) July 8, 1940
Stuart, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jeannie Patterson (m. 1965; div. 1996)
Robin Deal (m. 2003)
Residence Charlottesville, Virginia
Alma mater Wesleyan University (B.A.)
University of Virginia (LL.B.)

Gerald Lee Baliles (born July 8, 1940) was the 65th Governor of Virginia and the former director of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.[1]

Governor of Virginia

Baliles served as the 65th Governor of Virginia from 1986 to 1990, and ushered in a period of economic development for Virginia. A Democrat, Baliles won the 1985 Gubernatorial election with 55.2% of the vote defeating Republican Wyatt B. Durrette, Jr. He could not run for re-election, as Virginia governors are limited to non-consecutive single terms in office. However, Baliles' popularity helped secure the narrow election of Lieutenant Governor Douglas Wilder in 1989.

Improving Virginia's transportation infrastructure and increasing its revenues was one of his signature accomplishments. Recognized by colleagues for his emphasis on strategic planning and preparation, Baliles was known as Virginia's "transportation governor" because of the premium he placed on improving transportation in the state. In 1986, Baliles guided a $422 million-a-year revenue package through a special session of the General Assembly to improve Virginia's transportation system, and observers still credit him with the foresight of that effort. Another key priority was ensuring the state's ability to participate and compete in world markets, and during his administration Virginia’s international trade grew substantially.

Work in education

A champion of education, Baliles has long emphasized the need for workers to continually acquire new skills and training throughout their lives and careers. His administration increased faculty salaries, making pay for the state's higher-education teachers the highest in the South and among the highest in the nation. He began convening annual meetings of educators and education officials with the goal of building a flexible, statewide educational system that would be accessible to Virginians of all backgrounds and ages. In 1989, he hosted the nation's governors in Charlottesville for President George H. W. Bush's summit on education and has always been a staunch supporter of higher education.

During Baliles' administration, the state boasted the highest per-capita income in the South, and the ninth highest in the nation. He appointed the first woman, Elizabeth B. Lacy, to the Virginia Supreme Court, expanded the state prison system, and sought to strengthen the state's environmental protections, including cleaning the Chesapeake Bay. In 2004 he served as chair of a blue-ribbon panel to raise money for the Bay cleanup, and in 2005 the Chesapeake Bay Foundation named him conservationist of the year.

Baliles' tenure as governor capped a career in public service that included serving as the attorney general of Virginia (1982–85) and a member of the Virginia House of Delegates (1976–82), where he served on the Corporations, Insurance and Banking, and Agriculture committees.

Baliles was widely seen as having potential for a continued political career after his service as governor. However, Virginia's United States Senate seats were held by Democrat Chuck Robb, Baliles' predecessor as governor, and popular Republican John Warner. Baliles also did not pursue the Democratic nomination for President in 1992.

Post-gubernatorial career

After leaving office, he returned to private law practice as a partner in the national firm Hunton & Williams based in Richmond, Virginia. He has specialized in aviation and international law, negotiating agreements between airlines and airports, worked on strategic alliances between carriers, and led coalitions to expand market access and protect environmental standards. He chaired the Commission to Ensure a Strong Competitive Airline Industry (National Airline) Commission for President Bill Clinton and Congress. In the early 1990s, Baliles served as chairman of the Public Infrastructure Subcouncil of the Competitiveness Policy Council.

A member of the Virginia State Bar and the American Bar Association, the Virginia Bar Association, and the Richmond Bar Association, Baliles has been admitted to practice at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States, where he argued the case of Pulliam v. Allen in his capacity as the Attorney General of Virginia. He serves on the boards of the Norfolk Southern Corporation and Altria Group. He has also served as chair of PBS and throughout most of his professional life has been at the forefront of activities related to preserving the Chesapeake Bay. Always a champion of education, he founded the Patrick County Education Foundation and served as chairman of the Commission on the Academic Presidency and for the Task Force on the State of the Presidency in Higher Education, for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges. Baliles received the Harry F. Byrd Public Service Award from the Virginia Military Institute in 2006.

Personal life

A native of Virginia, Baliles was born on July 8, 1940 in Patrick County. Baliles is a graduate of Fishburne Military School in Waynesboro, Virginia and holds a bachelor's degree in Government from Wesleyan University in Connecticut (1963) and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He became the Miller Center's fifth director in April 2006. Governor Baliles and his wife, Robin, currently reside in Charlottesville, Virginia. He has two children, Laura and Jonathan, with his first wife, Jeannie Baliles. Jon Baliles was elected to the Richmond City Council in 2012.[2][3]


  1. "Miller Center". University of Virginia. Retrieved September 3, 2011.
  2. Scott Wise, WTVR-TV, Jon Baliles, Governor’s Son, Announces Richmond City Council Run, June 4, 2012
  3. Laura Geller, WWBT-TV, Jon Baliles Declared Winner In 1st District Recount, December 19, 2012
Legal offices
Preceded by
J. Marshall Coleman
Attorney General of Virginia
January 16, 1982 – June 30, 1985
Succeeded by
William Broaddus
Political offices
Preceded by
Chuck Robb
Governor of Virginia
January 18, 1986 – January 13, 1990
Succeeded by
Douglas Wilder
Preceded by
John H. Sununu
New Hampshire
Chairman of the National Governor's Association
Succeeded by
Terry E. Branstad
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