For a number of years Charles Edison ran Edison Records.
In 1937 President Roosevelt appointed Charles Edison as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, then as Acting Secretary on January 2, 1940, Claude A. Swanson having died several months previously. Edison himself only kept the job until June 24, resigning to run his gubernatorial campaign. During his time in the Navy department, he advocated construction of the large Iowa-class battleships, and that one of them be built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, which secured votes for Roosevelt in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in the 1940 election; in return, Roosevelt had BB-62 named the USS New Jersey.
In 1940 he won election as governor of New Jersey, running in reaction to the political machine run by Frank Hague, but broke with family tradition by declaring himself a Democrat. As governor he proposed updating the state constitution. Although it failed in a referendum and nothing was changed during his tenure, state legislators did reform the constitution later.
In 1948 he established a charitable foundation, originally called "The Brook Foundation", now the Charles Edison Fund.
His personal mascot was the owl, and he collected objects depicting owls.
Charles Edison is buried in East Orange, New Jersey.