(1876-1948) of Lewiston, born in Madison on July 6, 1876, was elected Maine’s first Democratic governor in two decades during depression era sweeps in 1932 and again in 1934. He defeated first Burleigh Martin of Augusta, then Alfred Ames of Machias.
Brann attended local schools in Gardiner and worked his way through the University of Maine graduating in 1898. After studying law, he was admitted to the bar in 1902 and became a highly successful trial lawyer.
Originally a Republican, he switched to the Democratic Party to protect his practice in predominantly Democratic Lewiston. He soon was elected to a series of local offices culminating in becoming Mayor in 1915 and serving five terms in that office. He served as a delegate to the 1924 National Democratic Convention, then chaired the Democratic Party and was a losing candidate for governor in the primary of 1926. However, in 1932 in won the primary and the general election becoming the first popularly elected Democratic governor in eighteen years.
Brann, as part of his efforts to promote Maine, entertained many celebrities at the Blaine House. His “Maine Summer Visitor’ Day” each year attracted throngs, including Rudy Vallee, Boston Braves President Camil Fuchs, and authors Ben Ames Williams, Kenneth Roberts, and Gladys Hasty Carroll.
With his connections to the Roosevelt Administration in Washington, he brought substantial federal resources to Maine. Brann worked very well with the Republican legislature and promoted the state to attract summer visitors. As a result, he handily won reelection in 1934. Nevertheless, he was turned back in his bid for the U.S. Senate in 1936, his attempt to return to the governor’s office in 1938, another run for the Senate in 1940, and one for Congress in 1942.
Retiring permanently from politics, he served as chair of the Federal Solid Fuel War Council in 1942 and practiced law in Maine. Brann died on February 3, 1948.
Hunt, H. Draper. The Blaine House – Home of Maine Governors, 1994.
*Kennebec Journal, Augusta, February 4, 1948.
*Cited in Friends of the Blaine House at http://blainehouse.org/governors(accessed April 25, 2011) (accessed April 25, 2011)