When Politics Wasn’t So Nasty
I’ve written before about Gov. Pat Lucey remaking the Wisconsin Democratic Party and overhauling state government. I jumped at the chance when WisPolitics.com asked me to cover a memorial service at the Capitol honoring Lucey’s accomplishments. Here’s a chunk of it:
…[I]t was Tommy Thompson, the state’s longest-serving governor, who seemed to capture the moment and draw the biggest applause. He started his speech by saying: “I’m a Republican.” Then pausing for dramatic effect, he added, “Pat Lucey was my friend.”
In a booming, passionate talk, Thompson explained how he identified with Lucey because they were both Irish Catholic boys and the sons of small-town Wisconsin grocers. He said he kept Lucey’s official portrait hanging in the governor’s office, even though fellow Republicans were puzzled by it.
“I kept the picture there, because I believed in the man. I wanted to show people the value of bipartisanship,” he said.
Thompson, like Lucey, achieved some of his most important legislation through a politically divided Legislature.
“It was the government of a different time, and it accomplished so much,” he said of the Lucey years. “These were civilized days when you could have friends on the other side of the aisle.”
Democrats and Republicans could battle all day over a legislative proposal, he said, “but then we would go out for a steak and a beer.”
The Capitol today is marked by “the politics of destruction,” Thompson said, “Pat Lucey never believed in that, nor did I.”
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