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Brendan Byrne

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Preceded by  William Cahill
Name  Brendan Byrne
Preceded by  Charles V. Webb
Succeeded by  Thomas Kean
Political party  Democratic Party
Party  Democratic Party
Children  7

Brendan Byrne Former NJ governor mugged in London Philadelphia
Born  April 1, 1924 (age 91) West Orange, New Jersey, U.S. (1924-04-01)
Alma mater  Princeton University Harvard Law School
Service/branch  United States Army Army Air Forces
Role  Former Governor of New Jersey
Previous office  Governor of New Jersey (1974–1982)
Spouse  Ruthi Zinn (m. 1994), Jean Byrne (m. 1953)
Education  Princeton University
Similar People  Thomas Kean, James Florio, Christine Todd Whitman, Jim McGreevey, Jon Corzine

Nj gov brendan byrne biography and remarks at eagleton institute of politics

Brendan Thomas Byrne (born April 1, 1924) is an American Democratic Party politician who served for two terms as the 47th Governor of New Jersey from 1974 to 1982. Elected in the wave of anti-Republican backlash arising from the Watergate scandal, he ushered in a period of reform of the state government and tax structure.


Brendan Byrne governorsrutgersedutestingwpcontentuploads2

Brendan byrne book interview

Early life and education

Brendan Byrne Former Gov Brendan Byrne returns to New Jersey after

Byrne was born and raised in West Orange, New Jersey. He is the fourth child among five children of ethnic Irish American Catholic parents, Francis A. Byrne (1886 – 1974) and Genevieve Brennan Byrne (1888 – 1969).

In 1942, Byrne graduated from West Orange High School, where he had served as both the president of the debate club and senior class president. He briefly enrolled at Seton Hall University, only to leave in March the following year to join the U.S. Army. During World War II, Byrne served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross and four Air Medals. By the time of his discharge from active service in 1945, he had achieved the rank of lieutenant.

After the war, and thanks to the G.I. Bill, Byrne attended Princeton University for two years, where he majored in Public and International Affairs. Due to the war, he spent only two years on campus, finishing his undergraduate thesis while enrolled at Harvard Law School. He graduated from Princeton in 1949, and went on to obtain his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1951.

On June 27, 1953, he married Jean Featherly, with whom he had seven children. Jean and Brendan Byrne divorced in 1993. Byrne married his second wife, Ruth Zinn, in 1994. Former First Lady of New Jersey Jean Byrne died in 2015.

Prior to entering public service, Byrne worked as a private attorney, first for the Newark law firm of John W. McGeehan, Jr., and later for the East Orange firm of Teltser and Greenberg.

New Jersey political career

In October 1955, Byrne was appointed an assistant counsel to Governor Robert B. Meyner, and the following year he became the Governor's acting executive secretary. In 1958, Byrne was appointed the deputy attorney general responsible for the Essex County Prosecutor's Office. The following year, Governor Meyner appointed him as the Essex County Prosecutor. Governor Hughes reappointed Byrne to this same office in 1964 following the end of his first five-year term. From 1968 to 1970, Byrne served as the president of the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners.

In 1970, Byrne was appointed by Governor William T. Cahill to the Superior Court. He served as the assignment judge for Morris, Sussex, and Warren Counties starting in 1972. In April 1973, Byrne resigned from the Superior court to run for governor.

1973 gubernatorial victory

Byrne defeated Ann Klein and Ralph DeRose in the 1973 Democratic primary to win the party's nomination for governor. In the November general election, Byrne won by beating the Republican nominee Congressman Charles Sandman in a landslide. Sandman had defeated the incumbent Governor Cahill in the primary. Byrne's margin was so vast that it allowed Democrats to capture control of both chambers of the state legislature.

First term as governor of New Jersey

On January 15, 1974, Brendan Byrne was sworn in as the 47th governor of New Jersey.

Some of the policies enacted by the first Byrne administration include: the implementation of New Jersey's first State Income Tax, the establishment of spending limits on local governments, county governments, school districts, and the state, the establishment of both the Department of the Public Advocate and the Department of Energy, and the implementation of public financing for future gubernatorial general elections. Although Byrne claimed during the 1973 campaign that a personal income tax would not be necessary for "the foreseeable future", he eventually "muscled through" the unpopular income tax, New Jersey's first, in 1976; it earned him the nickname "One-Term Byrne".

1977 gubernatorial reelection

Byrne faced ten opponents in the 1977 Democratic primary, including future governor James Florio. However, Byrne obtained the party's nomination, and went on to defeat his Republican opponent, State Senator Raymond Bateman, in the general election on November 8, 1977. This despite the fact that in early 1977, three-quarters of voters disapproved of his job performance and in polls taken in the summer, he trailed Bateman by 17 points. Byrne and Bateman debated nine times and Byrne used the governorship to his advantage, signing bills and appearing with cabinet members all over the state, benefiting from a visit by President Carter and turning what was his biggest weakness, the income tax, into a strength. Property taxes went down because of it, people got rebates and Bateman's plan—replacing it with an increased sales tax—was widely criticised.

Second term as governor of New Jersey

During his second term, Byrne focused on policies such as: the passage of the Pinelands Protection Act, expansion of major highways, including the Atlantic City Expressway and Interstate 287, upgrades to sewage systems, further development of the Meadowlands Sports Complex, and casino-hotel development in Atlantic City. He is the most recent Democrat to be elected governor twice. The other Governors elected to two terms (Thomas Kean, Christie Whitman, and Chris Christie) have all been Republicans.

Life after governorship

After leaving office in 1982, Governor Byrne became a senior partner at Carella, Byrne, Bain, Gilfillan, Cecchi, Stewart & Olstein in Roseland, New Jersey (now Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody and Agnello, P.C.). Additionally, Byrne and his successor as governor, Thomas Kean, co-write a weekly column in The Star-Ledger, containing their "dialogue" on state and national public affairs and politics. He has also taught courses at Princeton University and Rutgers University.

In 1993, Byrne and his wife Jean Featherly divorced.

On February 16, 2010, while vacationing in London with his wife, Byrne was punched in the face by a mentally ill man. The attack took place outside the Waterloo tube station. The attacker was subsequently restrained by a London Underground station supervisor who came to Byrne's aid until the police arrived. Byrne, who had taken part in a "staged charity boxing match with Muhammad Ali in 1979", joked: "At least I didn't fall down at Waterloo, as when I fought Ali."

In 2014, Donald Linky, Byrne's former chief counsel, published a biography of the former governor called New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne: The Man Who Couldn’t Be Bought.

Despite not supporting all of his policies, Byrne said that Governor Chris Christie should run for president in 2016, calling Christie "the best candidate that the Republicans have" and complimented his "charm".

Positions held, past and present

Byrne is a member of the Essex County and New Jersey State Bar Associations.

He also served as:

  • Editor of the Irish Law Reports
  • Essex County Prosecutor, 1959–1968
  • Vice President of the National District Attorneys Association, 1968
  • President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, 1968–1970
  • New Jersey Superior Court Judge, 1970–1973
  • Court Assignment Judge, 1973
  • Governor of the State of New Jersey, 1974–1982
  • Trustee of Princeton University, 1974–1982
  • Chairman of the Princeton University Council on New Jersey Affairs, 1985–1989
  • First Chair of the U.S. Marshalls Foundation
  • Member of the Advisory Board, National Judicial College
  • And as a member of the Board of Directors of the
  • Chelsea GA Carvel Foundation
  • Elizabethtown Water Company
  • Prudential Insurance Company
  • Cali Realty Company
  • Legacy

    In 2006, Rutgers University's Center on the American Governor of the Eagleton Institute of Politics established the Brendan T. Byrne Archive, an online database containing various resources from the Byrne administration, including original documents and video interviews with Brendan Byrne and members of his administration.

    The Brendan T. Byrne State Forest (formerly Lebanon State Forest) is named for him. The Brendan T. Byrne Arena in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford was also named for him, although it was renamed the Continental Airlines Arena in 1996, and then the Izod Center in 2007.

    Byrne's son, Tom Byrne, was the New Jersey Democratic State Committee chair in the 1990s and was a prospective candidate for the U.S. Senate race in 2000, before withdrawing in favor of eventual winner Jon Corzine, who later became governor.

    In 2011, Byrne was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame along with Queen Latifah, John Travolta, and ten others.

    The Man Who Couldn’t Be Bought is a biography of Byrne published in 2015.


    Brendan Byrne Wikipedia