It would be a cliché to point out Patrick Lucey was an old school politician who practiced moderation and statesmanship. During his four decades of public service, including two terms as Governor of Wisconsin from 1971 to 1977, times were different. Politicians were different. But it would also be a disservice not to appreciate how Lucey’s personal style of leadership served this state well.
Lucey, who died Saturday at the age of 96, is remembered as the man who led the rebirth of the Democratic Party in Wisconsin. His hard work and skill as an organizer led to Democratic gains both in the state and nationally, although his only run for national office came as running mate to independent presidential candidate John Anderson. But his many achievements, including the creation of the University of Wisconsin System, and significant tax reform, required a level of bipartisanship no longer appreciated. He was a progressive and a fiscal conservative. He was a straight shooter and he took his public service seriously. We mourn his passing.