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Former Wisconsin Gov Lucey dies at 96

first_imgMILWAUKEE — Former Wisconsin Gov. Patrick J. Lucey believed that he was a man without charisma, but whatever he may have lacked in that department he made up for as a tenacious organizer.Lucey moved in political circles for more than four decades — he was chairman of the state Democratic Party in the 1950s and became friends with John F. Kennedy after helping JFK win the state’s key presidential primary over Hubert H. Humphrey. In the era of Joseph McCarthy, Lucey was credited with the rise of the Democratic Party in Wisconsin. And as Wisconsin’s 38th elected governor, he won the first four-year term as a Wisconsin governor in 1971.That victory gave him the political clout to push for what was considered sweeping change, including the 1972 merger of the state’s two university systems.“He’s going to be remembered as one of Wisconsin’s most influential citizens,” said Democratic State Sen. Fred Risser, who served in the Legislature during Lucey’s two terms as governor. “He turned Wisconsin into a two-party state.”Lucey died Saturday night after a brief illness at the Milwaukee Catholic Home, where he had lived for several years. He was 96.A liberal governor who took a fiscally conservative approach, Lucey considered political capital something meant to be spent.“You’re making decisions every day that cut two ways and every time you do something that favors one group, you antagonize another,” Lucey said in a 1974 interview. “If you’re going to be effective, you just have to accept that and let the chips fall where they may.”last_img read more