May 12, 201412:47 PMBlaska's Bring It!
with David Blaska
Patrick Lucey and pro-business Democrats, R.I.P.
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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!