As Wisconsin governor from 1971 to 1977, Patrick J. Lucey pursued an ambitious progressive agenda, tempered by the concerns of a fiscal conservative and a pragmatic realist. He was known for bridging partisan divides, building coalitions, and keeping politics civil. His legacy, which included merging Wisconsin’s universities into one system and equalizing the funding formula for public schools, continues to impact Wisconsin residents and communities.
Preceding his service as governor, Lucey played a key role in rebuilding the Democratic Party in Wisconsin, returning a state that had been dominated by Republicans to a more moderate two-party system. As party chairman, he built coalitions between World War II veterans, remnants of the defunct Progressive Party, urban socialists, and activists in rural communities throughout the state.
Through exclusive interviews and unprecedented access to archival materials, Dennis L. Dresang shares the story of this pivotal figure in Wisconsin history, from his small-town rural roots to his wide-ranging influence.
About the Author: Dennis L. Dresang is professor emeritus of public affairs and political science and founding director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His research and scholarly publications have focused on state politics, public personnel management, and community issues.