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Former Wisconsin governor Lucey dies at 96

Published On: May 11 2014 01:12:35 PM CDT   Updated On: May 12 2014 07:58:07 AM CDT

Former Wisconsin Gov. Patrick Lucey, a hard-nosed Democratic politician who later became ambassador to Mexico, has died. He was 96.

MILWAUKEE -

Former Wisconsin Gov. Patrick Lucey, a hard-nosed Democratic politician who later became ambassador to Mexico, has died. He was 96.

His son, Paul Lucey, says Patrick Lucey died Saturday night at the Milwaukee Catholic Home after a brief illness.

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.

"Gov. Pat Lucey will be remembered as one who was instrumental in advocating a progressive Democratic party in Wisconsin," Sen. Fred Risser said in a statement. "As the state's first four-year term governor he was instrumental in a number of reforms in tax policy and social justice. He will go down in history as one of Wisconsin's most influential citizens."

Lucey also ran for vice president of the United States as an independent with John Anderson in 1980.

Gov. Scott Walker released a statement Sunday: "Tonette and I extend our thoughts and prayers to the family of Gov. Patrick Lucey. It was a particular joy to be with him last summer for the 40th anniversary of Kikkoman in Fontana. Gov. Lucey was a dedicated public servant who loved Wisconsin."

He will perhaps be remembered most in Wisconsin for pushing to merge the University of Wisconsin in Madison with the state college system, a fierce battle that created a system of 13 four-year state colleges.

Lucey was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1918.

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