Richard Bryan

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Richard Bryan
Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1995
Preceded byTerry Sanford
Succeeded byMitch McConnell
United States Senator
from Nevada
In office
January 3, 1989 – January 3, 2001
Preceded byChic Hecht
Succeeded byJohn Ensign
25th Governor of Nevada
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1989
LieutenantBob Cashell
Bob Miller
Preceded byRobert List
Succeeded byBob Miller
27th Attorney General of Nevada
In office
January 1, 1979 – January 3, 1983
GovernorRobert List
Preceded byRobert List
Succeeded byBrian McKay
Personal details
Richard Hudson Bryan

(1937-07-16) July 16, 1937 (age 86)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Bonnie Fairchild
(m. 1962; died 2016)
EducationUniversity of Nevada, Reno (BA)
University of California, Hastings (JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1959–1960

Richard Hudson Bryan (born July 16, 1937) is a retired American politician and attorney who served as the 25th Governor of Nevada from 1983 to 1989 and as a United States Senator representing Nevada from 1989 until 2001. A Democrat, Bryan previously served as the state's attorney general and a member of the State Senate.

Early life[edit]

Bryan was born in Washington, D.C., and graduated from the University of Nevada at Reno in 1959 where he was a member of Alpha Tau Omega and the president of ASUN.[1] He earned his J.D. degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. In 1963 he was admitted to the Nevada Bar. He was Clark County's first public defender.[2]

Political career[edit]

Bryan as governor.

Bryan served as a member of the Nevada Senate from 1972 to 1978. In 1979, Bryan became the Nevada Attorney General, and served in the position until 1983. In 1982, Bryan challenged incumbent Republican Nevada Governor Robert List, who was running for reelection. He defeated List and became governor in January 1983. Bryan was easily reelected in 1986, defeating Nevada State Treasurer Patricia Cafferata.

U.S. Senate[edit]

By 1987, Bryan was encouraged by several prominent politicians, including Harry Reid and Alan Cranston, to run for the U.S. Senate.[3] He declared his candidacy shortly after, and in the 1988 U.S. Senate election, he defeated incumbent Republican Senator Chic Hecht. He was sworn in at the convening of the 101st Congress on January 3, 1989. During his tenure in the Senate, Bryan served on the Finance, Banking, Intelligence and Commerce Committees.

Bryan was an opponent of Search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), stating: "As of today millions have been spent and we have yet to bag a single little green fellow. Not a single Martian has said take me to your leader, and not a single flying saucer has applied for FAA approval." He introduced an amendment to the 1994 budget that secured the cancellation of the High Resolution Microwave Survey and terminated NASA's SETI efforts less than one year after their launch.[4][5][6] Bryan ran for reelection in the Senate in 1994, easily defeating Republican challenger Hal Furman.

Bryan also focused on preventing Yucca Mountain from being used as a nuclear waste long-term storage site. Though the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository would be built during Bryan's time in the Senate, his opposition, along with delayed any actual storage from occurring. This opposition would continue after Bryan had retired before plans for storage were discontinued by President Barack Obama.[7]

Byran opted not to run for a third term in the Senate in 2000.[7]


  1. ^ "Famous ATOs". Alpha Tau Omega. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  2. ^ "After A Life Time Of Service, Richard Bryan Honored By Las Vegas, ACLU". Nevada Public Radio. Retrieved 2019-08-23.
  3. ^ "Bryan encouraged to run against Hecht in '88". Reno Gazette-Journal. 11 August 1987. p. 17. Retrieved 2023-03-25.
  4. ^ Alexander, Amir. "A History of SETI - Explore the Cosmos". The Planetary Society. The Planetary Society. Archived from the original on September 9, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2010.
  5. ^ H. Paul Shuch, ed. (2011). Searching for extraterrestrial intelligence: SETI past, present, and future. Berlin: Springer. ISBN 978-3-642-13195-0.
  6. ^ Garber, Stephen (1999). "Searching for Good Science: The Cancellation of NASA's SETI Program" (PDF). Nasa History Office. Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Bryan Not to Seek Re-election Washington Post, 19/02/99, Retrieved 12/04/18

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by Attorney General of Nevada
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Nevada
1982, 1986
Succeeded by
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Nevada
(Class 1)

1988, 1994
Succeeded by
Edward Bernstein
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Nevada
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Nevada
Served alongside: Harry Reid
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Senate Ethics Committee
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Senator Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Senator
Succeeded byas Former US Senator