Former Governor, Congressman Joseph E. Brennan Dies At 89

YouTube/Screenshot/Maine Irish Heritage Center

Dana Abizaid Contributor
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Former Maine governor and Democratic congressman Joseph E. Brennan died at his home in Portland Friday, the Associated Press reported.

The 89-year-old, who served two terms as Maine’s governor as well as two terms in Congress, died with his wife by his side only a short distance from the tenement neighborhood where his Irish immigrant parents raised him and his seven siblings, Brennan’s long-time friend Frank O’Hara said Saturday, according to the AP.

O’Hara said that Brennan’s experience growing up in that working-class neighborhood stuck with him as he entered politics at the age of 29 as a candidate for the Maine Legislature, the AP reported. (RELATED: Former Congressman Dies At 82)


Brennan, who served in the army and graduated from Boston College under the GI Bill before completing the University of Maine Law School, served Maine as a county district attorney, state attorney general, state lawmaker and governor, according to the outlet. He was governor from 1979 to 1987.

Brennan also represented Maine’s 1st Congressional District in Washington, DC from 1987 to 1991, WMTW reported.

Another former Maine governor, Joe Baladacci, who led the state from 2003 to 2011, called Brennan “a friend, a mentor and a dedicated servant.” Baladacci added, “He was a man of the highest integrity, who led Maine through difficult times.”

Maine’s current governor, fellow Democrat Janet Mills, said that being appointed by Brennan in 1980 to serve as the state’s first female district attorney was an important step toward her becoming Maine’s first female governor, the AP reported.

“Gov. Brennan demonstrated for me and others that politics is about building relationships, that public service is not about enriching yourself but about enriching the lives of others, and that the most important relationship is the one we have with the people we serve,” she said.

When Democratic Senator Edmund Muskie left his seat vacant in order to serve as Secretary of State in 1980, Brennan appointed federal judge George Mitchell, who eventually rose to Senate majority leader, according to the AP.

Mitchell said that Brennan was “a superb leader and lawyer who understood the importance of a firm and fair system of justice in our democracy.”