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May 12, 201412:47 PMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

Patrick Lucey and pro-business Democrats, R.I.P.

(page 1 of 2)

No one did more than Patrick Lucey to transform Wisconsin into a two-party state. He died Saturday at age 96, the longest-lived governor in state history.

Mr. Lucey was elected to the State Assembly in 1948, the state’s centennial, the same year as my grandfather John M. and a young Ruth Bachhuber Doyle, wife of Jim Doyle Sr. and mother of a future governor. All were Democrats. Warren Knowles and Mel Laird (still living!) were already veterans of the upper house when Gaylord Nelson joined them that year.

Pat Lucey played hardball in his politics, as did his allies, the Kennedys, who were never shy about lubricating the electorate if it would help them win. My friend John Nichols has written a lovely remembrance of the man, true as far as it goes, but Patrick Lucey was no populist, however much John may wish.

He was the last overtly pro-business Democrat to be elected governor of Wisconsin, elected from the hamlet of Ferryville, in picturesque Crawford County, where he was recently honored.

He was very definitely a one-percenter, like Mary Burke, but oh so much more accomplished. Lucey and his combative wife, Jean, deigned not to move into the governor’s mansion; it would have been a step down from their own Maple Bluff home.

In contrast to Ms. Burke, Lucey made his own money and knew how to encourage others to make wealth. It was he who enacted the Machinery & Equipment exemption from property taxes, which resulted in the Wall Street Journal naming Wisconsin “the [economic] star of the snowbelt.”

Yes, Patrick Lucey was a tax cutter, like his hero JFK. He grew the pie instead of cutting it into ever-thinner slices. The Democrat who chairs the party today, as Patrick Lucey once did in its glory years, calls tax cuts a “gimmick.” As my father (he also served in the Legislature) said near the end of his life, I did not leave the Democratic Party, it left me.”

Now you know … the rest of the story! Good day!


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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
May 12, 2014 03:02 pm
 Posted by  Leo

Patrick Lucey was the last Democrat governor of
Wisconsin who genuinely cared about Wisconsin's
economic health and growing the private sector.

And he was one of only a few to take dramatic
steps to make that happen. Because of that, he
made a lasting and positive impact on the state.

May 12, 2014 03:52 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

I've started businesses under three guvs: McCallum, Doyle and Walker. I pull the D lever.

May 12, 2014 09:24 pm
 Posted by  Matt Logan

Hey Blaska! I heard you talking about me on Vicki McKenna's show today. Seems like your recollection of history has been clouded by a Reaganesque haze. When I told you more bike lanes would help with crime in D20, the line of thinking was that getting more people out in the neighborhood with their eyes (and ears) on the street would be both a deterrent to and an early warning of crime. Of course, you failed to mention that, and simply let the average conservative's ignorance of bicycling fill in the blanks.

And didn't you design her campaign lit, which included a "more bike paths" plank on her platform? And yet, when it came time to deliver on her promise, this is what we got from D20FAIL Thuy:

As to what motivated me - it was regret at not sending bikies to volunteer for Gary Poulson's campaign the year Thuy was elected by only 19 votes. I was running an endorsement campaign with the BTA, and coordinating volunteers for bike-friendly candidates. After seeing Thuy's ignorant tirade at the Council meeting above, how could I let someone that ignorant get away with such incompetence?

May 13, 2014 08:57 am
 Posted by  Anonymous


I've started businesses under three guvs: McCallum, Doyle and Walker. I pull the D lever.

Because I get government money to start my businesses.

May 13, 2014 02:28 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

anon 8:57:

More money is spread around now through the WEDEC than ever before. But you must want to start up in a red county..

May 13, 2014 03:09 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Dave, Instead of using the word "lubricating," you should have used "greased". Wisconsin Democrats actually used greasy Vaseline and stuck it to everyone's posterior anatomy.

Lucey and his militaristic DNR (aka, Damned Nearly Russia) cut a path through Wisconsin wider than General Sherman's destructive March to the Sea during the Civil War.

May 13, 2014 07:35 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

anon 3:09 :

Odd you would mention the DNR and Lucey. Ol' Patrick hated the DNR and teamed up with the old Milwaukee Journal on a long term vendetta against the agency. That resulted in the departure of Les Voight, the long time secretary and a lot of top administrators. And that lead to Tony Earl taking over the agency. In the long run it was a good move for the state, DNR and our precious natural resources. But it sure was ugly watching it happen.

I would really like to read your take on the "militaristic DNR". Please provide the details.

May 14, 2014 11:09 am
 Posted by  David Blaska

Tom Still reminds us that Gov. Lucey took a major state employee strike, converted two independent state agencies to governor-appointed cabinet positions, and fought the education establishment.

May 14, 2014 11:28 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Conservatives are famously pro-business. Just ask the ones demanding that we all boycott Visa because they've signed openly gay football player Michael Sam to a promotional deal.

May 15, 2014 07:52 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Wish there were pro-business Republicans.

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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