Former Governor Dies at Home

Former Governor Dies at Home

( – Former Governor and Congressman Joseph E. Brennan has died at age 89. The Democrat served two terms as Maine Governor and died at his Portland home on April 5 with his family by his side. His death occurred just streets from where his Irish parents raised him and seven siblings on a shoestring budget. Brennan said his working-class past informed his politics and prompted him to stand for Maine’s state legislature at age 29.

Born in Portland in 1934, he graduated from Cheverus High School and went on to study law at the University of Maine. Mr. Brennan served in the US Army from 1953 to 1955 and won his first election to the Maine House of Representatives in 1964, serving three terms.

In 1970, the Democrat became District Attorney for Cumberland County. During this time, gunfire in the Munjoy Hill neighborhood caused bullets to land near his young daughter, sparking his long political campaign for gun control, including an assault weapons ban. He entered the Maine Senate in 1972 before making his first gubernatorial run two years later. He lost in those primary elections but eventually became Governor of Maine in 1979, serving until he entered the US House of Representatives in 1987.

While Governor, Mr. Brennan led negotiations between Wabanaki tribes and the federal government, resulting in the Maine Indian Land Claims Settlement Act 1980, signed by President Jimmy Carter.

Current Maine Governor Janet Mills paid tribute to Mr. Brennan, remembering her time working alongside him when he was the state’s Attorney General. She recounted that in 1980, Brennan appointed her Maine’s first woman District Attorney. She said she didn’t realize at the time that the appointment would place her “on the path years later to become the first woman to serve as Governor of Maine,” she added.

John Baldacci, who held the Governor post from 2003 to 2011, described Brennan in a statement as a man with a moral obligation to contribute to society, according to Maine Public. He said the former Congressman conducted politics with honesty and integrity.

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