Obituary: Patrick J. Lucey / Wis. governor, vice-presidential candidate

March 21, 1918 - May 10, 2014

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Patrick J. Lucey, who was twice elected governor of Wisconsin and ran for vice president in 1980 on an independent ticket with John B. Anderson, died May 10 in Milwaukee. He was 96.

His son Paul confirmed his death.

Mr. Lucey, a Democrat, was governor from 1971 to 1977. He left office in the middle of his second term when President Jimmy Carter appointed him ambassador to Mexico. Nonetheless, Mr. Lucey became a harsh critic of Mr. Carter, even before joining the ticket of Mr. Anderson, a Republican congressman from Illinois, in a three-way race with Mr. Carter and Ronald Reagan.

After traveling the country as deputy campaign manager for the presidential bid of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Mr. Lucey said he had seen "the human wreckage Jimmy Carter's presidency has left in its wake."

He also said that Mr. Carter "has refused to take responsibility for the state of the nation, preferring instead to numb the nation with the false and dangerous message that no president can really make any difference."

Reagan was elected, and Mr. Anderson finished third, with about 7 percent of the popular vote and no electoral votes.

Patrick Joseph Lucey was born in La Crosse, Wis., on March 21, 1918. His father ran a general store and owned farms.

Mr. Lucey was drafted into the Army in 1941, serving in the Quartermaster Corps in the Caribbean before he was discharged in 1945. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin the next year and was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1948.

As the leader of the state Democratic Party in the 1950s, Mr. Lucey helped to revive the party when the state was mostly Republican. He also created a successful real estate business in Madison.

He was elected lieutenant governor in 1965 and governor in 1970. He pushed to merge the University of Wisconsin in Madison with the state college system, creating the current system of 13 four-year state colleges.

Mr. Lucey, who often wore large thick-rimmed glasses, told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he was not always comfortable shaking hands and working a room.

"I don't think I would recognize charisma if it hit me on the head, and I've only learned how to pronounce the word in recent years," he said.

"I just sort of plod along and do what I think needs to be done and hope that it will all fall right."



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