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Former Maine Public journalist Jim Brunelle dies at 86

A journalist and longtime observer of Maine government and politics, Jim Brunelle, has died.

Brunelle may have been steeped in Maine government and politics, but he grew up in Claremont, New Hampshire, and his first jobs were in radio across New England and in upstate New York. He began working as a TV news anchor at WCSH in Portland in 1965. Four years later, he joined the Portland Press Herald-Maine Sunday Telegram, where he would spend nearly 40 years as a reporter, editorial writer and editor, and columnist.

He also appeared on Maine Public Television beginning in the 1970s as a panelist on the public affairs program Maine Week, then as a commentator on MaineWatch from 1986 to 2003.

"Jim Brunelle is one of the smartest guys I ever worked with," says U.S. Sen. Angus King of Maine, who once served as the host of MaineWatch. "He didn't have an agenda. To this day, I don't really know what his politics were, but he just had a real clear insight and a desire to get the facts straight."

Brunelle wrote several books, all with Maine themes, including the "Maine Almanac" and "Over to Home and From Away," an anthology of humor. He wrote his last column for the Portland Press Herald in 2006 and was inducted into the Maine Press Association's Hall of Fame in 2008.

In retirement, Brunelle and his wife, Ellen, moved to Washington state to be near to their daughter. He died this past Monday at 86 years old.