James B. Longley

James B. Longley
69th Governor of Maine
In office
January 2, 1975  January 3, 1979
Preceded by Kenneth M. Curtis
Succeeded by Joseph E. Brennan
Personal details
Born (1924-04-22)April 22, 1924
Lewiston, Maine, United States
Died August 16, 1980(1980-08-16) (aged 56)
Lewiston, Maine, United States
Political party Independent
Other political
Democratic (before 1975)
Spouse(s) Helen Longley
Religion Roman Catholic

James Bernard Longley, Sr. (April 22, 1924 – August 16, 1980) was an American politician. He served as the 69th Governor of Maine from 1975 to 1979, and was the first Independent to hold the office. In 1949, he married the former Helen Angela Walsh, who died on September 13, 2005. They had five children, including former Republican U.S. Representative James B. Longley, Jr. (born 1951). Longley, Sr., a graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, resided in Lewiston and Auburn, Maine.

The owner of a successful insurance agency in Lewiston, Longley got his first opportunity in statewide politics when then-Governor Kenneth M. Curtis asked him to lead a state government commission called The Maine Management and Cost Survey Commission, which was intended to make government more efficient, and cut costs. After some initial reluctance, Longley accepted the position and pursued the job with vigor.[1]

Longley made several recommendations that were projected to save the state in excess of $24 million. One of his major proposals included restructuring the Maine university system, which he felt was grossly inefficient.[1] His work at the commission gave him a prominent statewide profile, something he decided to try to turn into an electoral mandate when Governor Curtis retired in 1974.

Longley had been a lifelong Democrat, but due to earning a maverick reputation acting in a non-partisan role on the cost-cutting commission and because he inadvertently missed the filing deadline for party candidates in the gubernatorial election, he ran as an independent.[1] Some Maine observers believed he knew he would be unable to beat both former Edmund Muskie adviser George J. Mitchell and state Senator Joseph E. Brennan in a Democratic primary, causing him not to file with the party. He ran on the slogan "Think About It," a phrase he often used with insurance customers to get them to consider his products.[1] He had been endorsed by the Bangor Daily News.[2]

As Governor, Longley issued 118 vetoes, a record that stood until 2014 when Paul LePage vetoed 122.[3] Longley holds the record for having the most vetoes overridden by the Legislature in a single term, which overrode 64.[4]

Longley is still notable in Maine politics for having a reputation for making off-the-cuff abrasive comments. He once referred to State legislators as "pimps". Other Maine Governors who are seen as having a similar style are sometimes compared to Longley, such as LePage.[5]

Longley promised during his campaign that he would serve only one term, and he did not run for re-election in 1978.

Longley died of cancer on August 16, 1980, and was interred at Mount Hope Cemetery in Lewiston.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Cover, Susan (2007-12-31). "Dead Serious: Independent Jim Longley wanted to be 'the people's governor'". Kennebec, Maine: Kennebec Journal. Archived from the original on May 11, 2008.
  2. "Gov. Longley's Lesson". Bangor Daily News. 2005-08-16. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
  3. Steve Mistler (April 2, 2014). "Maine House overrides three vetoes by Gov. LePage". Kennebec Journal. Retrieved April 2, 2014.
  4. Scott Thistle (June 11, 2015). "LePage nears Maine record for overridden vetoesl". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  5. "Blunt-talking Gov. LePage rankles many Maine voters". Bangor Daily News. 2011-04-03. Retrieved 2013-06-05.
Political offices
Preceded by
Kenneth M. Curtis
Governor of Maine
Succeeded by
Joseph E. Brennan
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