Congressman Dies Aged 89

( – On April 6, media outlets erupted with the news of the passing of former Democratic Rep. and Maine Gov. Joseph Brennan. Writer and longtime friend Frank O’Hara told news organizations that the 89-year-old politician died peacefully at home with his wife by his side.

Brennan died of natural causes at home. A lifelong resident of Maine, he passed away a few blocks away from the third-story tenement housing unit where he grew up with his Irish immigrant parents in Munjoy, a predominantly working-class neighborhood of Portland. His obituary confirmed that Brennan was the fifth of eight children.

Brennan was predeceased by his parents, four brothers, and three sisters. He is survived by his wife, Connie Brennan; daughter, Tara Brennan; son, JB Brennan; and three grandsons.

Maine Loses a Longtime Political Leader

Brennan dedicated his life to public service in various capacities over the decades, proudly representing Maine residents at the local, state, and federal levels. He served three terms representing Portland in the Maine House from 1965 to 1971, followed by one year as the Cumberland County district attorney.

Brennan served one term in the Maine Senate from 1973 to 1975, followed by a four-year stint as the state’s attorney general from 1974 to 1979. He served two terms as governor from 1979 to 1987.

Brennan focused on highway safety measures and educational reforms and helped establish Maine’s Finance Authority during his tenure as governor. Notably, he appointed Sen. George Mitchell (D-ME) to replace Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-ME) after he resigned to serve as US secretary of State under former President Jimmy Carter in May 1980. Mitchell later gained notoriety as the head of the Senate Democratic Caucus and Senate majority leader.

Brennan concluded his political career by serving two terms in the US House from 1987 to 1991. Then, in 1999, former President Bill Clinton nominated Brennan to serve on the Federal Maritime Commission. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama renominated him, and he served on the commission until he retired from public service on January 1, 2013.

Maine Remembers Joseph Brennan

Maine’s Democratic Gov. Janet Mills released a statement paying homage to Brennan’s years of public service and mourning his passing. She wrote, “Maine and the country… lost a great public servant,” and she “lost a friend.”

Noting his five decades of service, Mills said that Brennan “never stopped working to improve the lives” of Maine’s residents. She also stressed his commitment to friendship, fairness, hard work, and lifelong drive to help people in need.

Likewise, Maine State Sen. Joe Baldacci (D) posted a lengthy tribute to Brennan on his X/Twitter account. He recounted his first meeting with Brennan at his Portland law office when he was eight years old in 1973. Baldacci concluded his remarks by praising Brennan as a “model of commitment and integrity.”

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