I’m Charles, Not William

Two records that are likely never to be broken in the annals of Nebraska electoral history are the nine appearances on a major party gubernatorial primary ballot – and seven nominations won – by Democrat Charles Bryan spanning the 1910s to the 1940s. The Lincoln mayor lost his first two nomination attempts in 1916 and 1918 to rancher and banker Keith Neville. After sitting out the 1920 contest, the brother of three-time presidential nominee William Jennings Bryan then won the Democratic primary six cycles in a row from 1922 through 1932 as well as the governorship three times (1922, 1930, 1932). [Bryan withdrew from the 1924 race after capturing his party’s vice-presidential nomination on John Davis’ losing ticket]. Following a failed U.S. Senate bid in 1934 and winning Lincoln’s 1935 mayoral race, Bryan ran as an independent in the 1938 gubernatorial contest, receiving 15.4 percent in a distant third place. Bryan won his party’s nomination for governor for a final seventh time in 1942, but was defeated by Governor Dwight Griswold by nearly 50 points that November. The former three-term governor passed away less than three years later in 1945.

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