Lee served two terms as governor (1949-57), three terms as mayor of Salt Lake City (1960-72), and seemed to be a perennial candidate for governor and senator as well as a forceful spokesman for conservatism. He was one of the few Utah governors to be nationally known, especially for his fiscal conservatism and his vociferous opposition to income tax, foreign aid, and the United Nations. His candor and gift for self-expression were immediately reminiscent of Harry S Truman. Due to a penchant for invective and personal confrontation, Lee probably made more enemies than any other Utah politician.
Although his record as mayor of Price was somewhat controversial, as governor he gained immediate respectability for his emphasis on integrity and economy. His principal target for economy was education, however, and he soon made an enemy of almost every educator in the state. On balance, his healthy relationship with the Mormon Church saved him in large part from the educators' wrath.
Without question, Lee made his greatest contribution as mayor of Salt Lake City. His political maturity generally served the city well during his twelve years, which were known for fiscal stability and capital improvements. Even though his principles remained constant, he was more temperate in his approach and thus was more effective during his final years in office.
See: Dennis L. Lythgoe, Let `Em Holler: A Political Biography of J. Bracken Lee (1982).
Dennis L. Lythgoe