MILWAUKEE – Former Wisconsin Gov. Patrick Lucey, a hard-nosed Democratic politician who later became the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, has died. He was 96.
Lucey, who also ran for vice president of the United States as an independent in 1980, died Saturday night at the Milwaukee Catholic Home after a brief Illness, said his son, Paul Lucey, of Milwaukee. He said funeral arrangements are pending.
“Governor Lucey was a dedicated public servant who loved Wisconsin,” Republican Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement.
Patrick Lucey was elected governor in 1970 and won re-election in 1974, but left midway through his second term to serve as then-President Jimmy Carter’s ambassador to Mexico.
Carter tapped Lucey to serve as his ambassador to Mexico in 1977, a year before Lucey’s second term as governor would have ended. In 1980, Lucey turned around and became independent John Anderson’s running mate in a failed bid to defeat Carter and Republican Ronald Reagan, who won the election.
Lucey continued to remain active in politics and every bit as opinionated well into his 90s. He briefly served with former Gov. Tommy Thompson as honorary co-chairmen for Justice David Prosser’s contentious campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2011 but withdrew his support just before the election because of what he called “a disturbing distemper and lack of civility” in Prosser, though he did not cite specifics.
Lucey, in fact, was responsible for breaking the all-male dominance of the state’s high court when he appointed now Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson to it in 1976.