Former Lt. Gov. Ellis E. Patterson, who with Gov. Culbert Olson in 1938 formed the first Democratic administration in California in more than 40 years, died Sunday of cancer.
Patterson was 87 and was lieutenant governor from 1938 to 1942.
Earlier, he had won a precedent-setting write-in campaign to join the Assembly.
Born in Yuba City in 1897, Patterson attended the University of California at Berkeley in 1917.
After graduation, he taught and then became superintendent of schools for Monterey County. He attended Stanford University Law School and was admitted to the State Bar in 1937.
He had begun his public career in 1932 as a Republican assemblyman from Monterey and San Luis Obispo counties. He was defeated in the primary election in his second reelection bid in 1936 but waged what may have been the state's first write-in campaign and won the seat.
He became enamored of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies and switched to the Democratic Party, where he gained a reputation as an aggressive liberal. The publicity his write-in campaign generated led to his lieutenant governor candidacy.
After one term as lieutenant governor, he was defeated by Republican Frederick Houser, while Olson lost to Republican Earl Warren. Patterson did win a seat in the House of Representatives two years later but retired in 1946 to his private law practice.
He had been a resident of Los Angeles County since 1938, most recently in Studio City.
He is survived by his second wife, Mildred; three children, and eight grandchildren.