Brendan Byrne
Get Brendan Byrne essential facts below. View Videos or join the Brendan Byrne discussion. Add Brendan Byrne to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Brendan Byrne

Brendan Byrne
Brendan Byrne 2011 (cropped).jpg
Byrne in 2011
47th Governor of New Jersey

January 15, 1974 - January 19, 1982
William Cahill
Thomas Kean
Prosecutor of Essex County

February 16, 1959 - January 11, 1968
Robert B. Meyner
Charles Webb
Joseph P. Lordi
Personal details
Brendan Thomas Byrne

(1924-04-01)April 1, 1924
West Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedJanuary 4, 2018(2018-01-04) (aged 93)
Livingston, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
(m. 1953; div. 1993)

Ruthi Zinn
(m. 1994)
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
Harvard University (LLB)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1943-1945
RankUS-O2 insignia.svg First Lieutenant
UnitUSAAC Roundel 1919-1941.svg U.S. Army Air Corps

Brendan Thomas Byrne (April 1, 1924 - January 4, 2018) was an American politician, statesman, and prosecutor, serving as the 47th Governor of New Jersey from 1974 to 1982.

A member of the Democratic Party, Byrne started his career as a private attorney and worked in the New Jersey state government starting in 1955 before resuming his legal career after leaving office in 1982.

During his time as Governor, Byrne oversaw the opening of the first gambling casinos in Atlantic City, expanded the oceanside municipality's economic base, and established the New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate. He also saved a large majority of woodlands and wildlife areas in the state from development.[1][2]

In the late 1970s, an FBI wiretap recorded local mobsters calling Byrne "the man who couldn't be bought," a reference to his high ethical standards. The public's response to this propelled his popularity during an era when many New Jersey politicians were being mired in corruption scandals.[3] Byrne used the quote as the slogan for his successful re-election bid.[4]

From 1981 to 1996, the Meadowlands Arena at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey, formerly home to the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League, New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association, and Seton Hall Pirates men's basketball was named Brendan Byrne Arena in his honor. The arena was then renamed Continental Airlines Arena, followed by IZOD Center.

Brendan Byrne State Park, located in New Lisbon, New Jersey was also named in his honor.

In 2011, Byrne was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame for his service to the state.[5]

Early life and education

Byrne was born and raised in West Orange, New Jersey.[6] He was the fourth child among five children of ethnic Irish American Catholic parents Francis A. Byrne (1886-1974), a local public safety commissioner[7] and Genevieve Brennan Byrne (1888-1969).[8]

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.[9] He briefly enrolled at Seton Hall University, only to leave in March the following year to join the U.S. Army.[8] During World War II, Byrne served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross and four Air Medals.[9] By the time of his discharge from active service in 1945, he had achieved the rank of lieutenant.[9]

After the war, Byrne attended Princeton University for two years, where he studied in the School of Public and International Affairs.[1] Due to the war, he spent only two years on campus, finishing his undergraduate thesis while enrolled at Harvard Law School.[1] He graduated from Princeton in 1949 after completing a 95-page long senior thesis titled "Proportional Representation in Municipal Government", and went on to obtain his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1951.[9][10]

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.[11]

Political career

In October 1955, Byrne was appointed an assistant counsel to Governor Robert B. Meyner.[12] The following year he became the Governor's acting executive secretary.[1] In 1958, Byrne was appointed the deputy attorney general responsible for the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.[12] The following year, Governor Meyner appointed him as the Essex County Prosecutor.[12] Governor Hughes reappointed Byrne to this same office in 1964 following the end of his first five-year term.[9] From 1968 to 1970, Byrne served as the president of the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners.[13]

In 1970, Byrne was appointed by Governor William T. Cahill to the Superior Court.[8] He served as the assignment judge for Morris, Sussex, and Warren Counties starting in 1972.[8] In April 1973, Byrne resigned from the Superior court to run for governor.[9]

1973 gubernatorial victory

Byrne defeated Ann Klein and Ralph DeRose in the 1973 Democratic primary to win the party's nomination for governor.[8] In the November general election, Byrne won by beating the Republican nominee Congressman Charles Sandman in a landslide.[9] Sandman had defeated the incumbent Governor Cahill in the primary.[9] Byrne's landslide margin of victory was so vast that it allowed Democrats to capture control both chambers of the state legislature with supermajorities.[14][15][16]

First term as governor of New Jersey

Byrne as governor.

On January 15, 1974, Byrne was sworn in as the 47th governor of New Jersey.[9]

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.[17] 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".[18]

1977 gubernatorial reelection

Byrne faced ten opponents in the 1977 Democratic primary, including future governor James Florio.[9] 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.[1] 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.[19]

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.[12] Shortly before the 1977 gubernatorial election, New Jersey homeowners began receiving rebate checks (funded by state income tax revenues) to offset their property taxes, while Bateman's plan--replacing the state income tax with an increased sales tax--was widely criticized.[20]

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.[1] He is the most recent Democrat to be elected governor twice.[12] The other Governors elected to two terms (Thomas Kean, Christie Whitman, and Chris Christie) have all been Republicans.[18]

Cabinet and administration

The Byrne Cabinet[21]
GovernorBrendan ByrneJanuary 15, 1974 - January 19, 1982
Secretary of AgriculturePhillip AlampiJuly 2, 1956 - June 30, 1982
Attorney GeneralWilliam F. HylandJanuary 15, 1974 - January 17, 1978
John J. DegnanJanuary 17, 1978 - March 5, 1981
Judith J. A YaskinMarch 5, 1981 - March 26, 1981 (acting)
James R. ZazzaliMarch 26, 1981 - January 19, 1982
Commissioner of BankingRichard F. SchaubFebruary 26, 1973 - August 31, 1976
Robert F. WagnerSeptember 1976 - May 1977
Mary L. ParellMay 2, 1977 - February 22, 1978
Robert R. BianchiFebruary 24, 1978 - February 8, 1982
President of the
Civil Service Commission
James A. AllowayJune 8, 1970 - September 23, 1976
S. Howard WoodsonSeptember 23, 1976 - March 23, 1982
Commissioner of Community AffairsSidney L. Willis1974 (acting)
Patricia Q. SheehanJanuary 17, 1974 - December 1, 1978
Joseph A. LeFanteDecember 15, 1978 - February 10, 1982
Commissioner of CorrectionsRobert MulcahyNovember 8, 1976 - January 17, 1978
William H. FauverJune 15, 1978 - December 31, 1997 (Acting: January 18, 1974 - June 15, 1978)
Defense Adjutant GeneralMajor General William R. SharpApril 23, 1970 - March 20, 1974
Major General Wilfred C. Menard Jr.March 20, 1974 - February 10, 1982
Commissioner of EducationFred G. BurkeJuly 1, 1974 - March 31, 1982
Commissioner of EnergyAnthony J. Grossi, President (PUC)1972 - 1975
Joel R. Jacobson, President (PUC)1975 - July 20, 1977
Joel R. Jacobson, Commissioner (DOE)July 21, 1977 - December 22, 1981
Charles A Richman1981 - 1982 (acting)
Commissioner of Environmental ProtectionRichard J SullivanMay 5, 1970 - May 6, 1974
Joseph T. Barber1974 (acting)
David J. BardinMay 9, 1974 - May 6, 1977
Rocco D. RicciJuly 10, 1977 - May 12, 1978 (Acting: 1977)
Betty Wilson1978 (acting)
Daniel Joseph O'HernMay 12, 1978 - July 16, 1979
Betty Wilson1979 (acting)
Jerry F. EnglishAugust 23, 1979-March 1, 1982
Commissioner of HealthJames R. CowanJanuary 29, 1970 - May 13, 1974
Joanne E. FinleyJune 17, 1974 - March 5, 1982
Chancellor of Higher EducationRalph A. DunganJune 26, 1967 - August 9, 1977
T. Edward HollinderAugust 9, 1977 - June 30, 1990
Commissioner of Human ServicesAnn Klein, DIA1974 - October 31, 1976
Ann Klein, DHSNovember 1, 1976 - February 5, 1981
Timothy CardenMarch 17, 1981 - February 25, 1982
Commissioner of InsuranceRichard C. McDonoughFebruary 14, 1972 - January 21, 1974
James J. SheeranJanuary 21, 1974 - January 25, 1982
Commissioner of Labor and Workforce
Joseph A. Hoffman1974 - 1976
John J. Horn1976 - 1982
Public AdvocateStanley Van NessMay 21, 1974 - February 11, 1982
Secretary of StateJ. Edward CrabielJanuary 15, 1974 - July 11, 1977
F. Joseph Carragher1974 (acting)
George W. Lee1977 (acting)
Donald LanJuly 11, 1977 - January 19, 1982
Commissioner of TransportationAlan SagnerJanuary 21, 1974 - August 15, 1977
Russell MullenAugust 15, 1977 - May 22, 1978
Louis GambacciniMay 22, 1978 - September 25, 1981
Anne CanbyNovember 16, 1981 - April 16, 1982 (Acting: August 13, 1981 - November 16, 1981)
State TreasurerRichard LeoneJanuary 15, 1974 - December 10, 1976
Clifford A. GoldmanFebruary 18, 1977 - January 19, 1982 (Acting: 1976 - 1977)


Byrne in 2007

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.).[22] Additionally, Byrne and his successor as governor, Thomas Kean, co-wrote a weekly column in The Star-Ledger, containing their "dialogue" on state and national public affairs and politics.[9] He has also taught courses at Princeton University and Rutgers University.[22]

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.[18][23]

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".[18]

2010 assault

On February 16, 2010, while vacationing in London with his wife, Byrne was punched in the face by a mentally ill man near Waterloo tube station.[24] The attacker was subsequently restrained by a London Underground station supervisor who came to Byrne's aid until the police arrived.[24] 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."[24][25]

Personal life

On June 27, 1953, he married Jean Featherly,[9] with whom he had seven children.[26] Jean and Brendan Byrne divorced amicably in 1993, and both Byrne and his wife stated that they had "grown apart". Byrne married his second wife, Ruth Zinn, who was also divorced, in 1994.[9][27] Jean Byrne died in 2015 of babesiosis, aged 88.[26]


Byrne died on January 4, 2018, in Livingston, New Jersey, of a lung infection at the age of 93.[2][3][8][13]

His funeral was held on January 8 at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey.[28] Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin, then-Governor Chris Christie and Governor-elect Phil Murphy, former Governors Thomas Kean, Donald DiFrancesco, Jim McGreevey, Richard Codey and Jon Corzine and U. S. Representative Bill Pascrell were in attendance.[29] Byrne's remains were cremated and his ashes were spread in Hudson County and in the Pine Barrens.[28]


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.[30]

The Brendan T. Byrne State Forest (formerly Lebanon State Forest) is named for him.[8] The Brendan 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.[31]

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.[1] Brendan's oldest granddaughter, Meaghan, works as a staffer in Congress.[32]

In 2011, Byrne was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame along with Queen Latifah, John Travolta, and ten others.[5]

The Man Who Couldn't Be Bought is a biography of Byrne published in 2015.[33]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Brendan Byrne, Governor Who Gave New Jersey Casinos, Dies at 93". Bloomberg. January 4, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Son: Former New Jersey Gov. Brendan Byrne, Democrat who mobsters said was too ethical to be bribed, dies at age 93". The Washington Post. January 4, 2018. Archived from the original on January 5, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Ex-New Jersey Gov. Brendan Byrne, too ethical for mobsters, dies at 93". Chicago Tribune. January 4, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  4. ^ "Governor Brendan T. Byrne Timeline". Rutgers University Center on the American Governor. Rutgers University. Retrieved 2018.
  5. ^ a b DeMarco, Megan (January 21, 2011). "Queen Latifah, Gov. Brendan Byrne announced as New Jersey Hall of Fame class of 2011 inductees". The Star-Ledger.
  6. ^ Golway, Terry (October 31, 2004). "When Codey Talks, He Talks to Them". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Portnoy, Jenna (January 4, 2018). "Brendan Byrne, two-term New Jersey governor in 1970s, dies at 93". The Washington Post.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g "Brendan Byrne, Former New Jersey Governor, Dies at 93". The Star-Ledger. January 8, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Governor Brendan T. Byrne Biography". Center on the American Governor. Rutgers University. Retrieved 2014.
  10. ^ Byrne, Brendan Thomas (1949). "Proportional Representation in Municipal Government". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ Edward J. Mullin, Fitzgerald's New Jersey Legislative Manual, 1980, "Governor's Biography, p. 413-414"
  12. ^ a b c d e Furgerson, Laura Kidd (January 4, 2018). "Former New Jersey Gov. Brendan Byrne Dies At 93". Hackensack Daily Voice. Retrieved 2018.
  13. ^ a b Christie, Chris (January 4, 2018). "Governor Chris Christie On The Passing Of Governor Brendan T. Byrne". Office of the Governor. Archived from the original on January 5, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  14. ^ Sullivan, Ronald (November 7, 1973). "Sandman Routed -- GOP Loses Control of State Legislature 3rd Time in Century". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014.
  15. ^ "Election Decimates the G.O.P.'s Ranks in Trenton". The New York Times. November 8, 1973. Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ Sullivan, Ronald (November 9, 1973). "Jersey Republicans Urge Party Purge". The New York Times. Retrieved 2018.
  17. ^ Edward J. Mullin, Fitzgerald's New Jersey Legislative Manual, 1980, "Governor's Biography, p.413"
  18. ^ a b c d Haddon, Heather (December 19, 2014). "Brendan Byrne, 90 Years Old and Still in the Mix". The Wall Street Journal.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 26, 2014. Retrieved 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 26, 2014. Retrieved 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^
  22. ^ a b "Son: Former New Jersey Gov. Brendan Byrne, Democrat who mobsters said was too ethical to be bribed, dies at age 93". ABC News. January 4, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  23. ^ Linky, Donald (2014). New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne: The Man Who Couldn't Be Bought. Fairleigh Dickinson. ISBN 978-1611477429.
  24. ^ a b c Sherman, Ted (February 16, 2010). "Former N.J. Gov. Brendan Byrne is mugged, punched in face while in London". The Star-Ledger.
  25. ^ Kirby, Terry (February 19, 2010). "Jack Sparrow impersonator saves visitor from meeting his Waterloo". London Evening Standard.
  26. ^ a b "Former N.J. First Lady Jean Byrne dies at 88". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2017.
  27. ^ Linky, Donald (October 13, 2014). New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne: The Man Who Couldn't Be Bought. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781611477436.
  28. ^ a b "Hundreds gather to remember former N.J. Gov. Byrne". New January 8, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  29. ^ "What they said about Brendan Byrne: Former governors salute their colleague". Daily Record. January 8, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  30. ^ "Brendan T. Byrne Archive". Center on the American Governor. Rutgers University. Retrieved 2014.
  31. ^ Sandomir, Richard (January 5, 1996). "Brendan Byrne Arena Goes Continental". The New York Times.
  32. ^ "meaghan byrne - LegiStorm Search Results". Retrieved 2021.
  33. ^ "Summer Reading 2015: Biography Takes Admiring Look at Popular Governor - NJ Spotlight". August 18, 2015. Retrieved 2017.

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert Meyner
Democratic nominee for Governor of New Jersey
1973, 1977
Succeeded by
James Florio
Preceded by
Ella T. Grasso
Chair of the Democratic Governors Association
Succeeded by
Jerry Brown
Political offices
Preceded by
William Cahill
Governor of New Jersey
Succeeded by
Thomas Kean

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes