Supporters of the Anderson-Lucey ticket are getting two political renegades and two women who became known as independents long before their husbands.
"Oh, my God, two volatile Greeks," exclaimed a Washington political wife familiar with both Keke Machakos Anderson and Jean Vlasis Lucey. "The burden of those two guys.
But the burden, if it even is one, can be a blessing. It was Keke Anderson who was dispatched to persuade Jean Lucey to allow her husband, Pat Lucey, to be John Anderson's running mate. No more including the principals, is denying that Keke Anderson, 47, and Jean Lucey, 62, are high-spirited, strong-minded, controversal women who have played prominent and influential roles in the political careers of their husbands.
"Pat Lucey and I both showed the unusual good sense in seeking out, marrying and choosing for the mother of our children a daughter of the Hellenes," independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson told a University of Wisconsin audience at the kick off of his and Lucey's National Unity Campaign last weekend in Madison, that Athens of the Midwest. "These are both beautiful Greek women, as you can tell, and in ancient history wars began. . . "
Before Anderson could finish, however, the crowd of 1,300 exploded with laughter, a reaction rooted in what has been for Wisconsinites at least two turbulent decades of Jean Lucey wars, some of them when her husband was governor of Wisconsin, some more recently when he was Jimmy Carter's ambassador to Mexico. Behind Anderson, on the stage of Memorial Union Theater, those "daughters of the Hellenes" grinned broadly, stole sisterly glances but otherwise sat serene.
A couple of days earlier, in the kitchen of her husband's Georgetown campaign headquaters. Keke Anderson, also the subject of considerable political lore, claimed to be unconcerned about stories of Jean Lucey's tempestuous disposition and sharp tongue, chalking up a lot of what she has read and heard to gossip and rumors of political life. And if people see them as being alike in many ways besides appearance, it's because, she said, "both Jean and I are down to earth."
The slender, dark-eyed Keke Anderson added: "I don't think either of us has any airs or illusions of grandeur. I've been in Washington 20 years and although I've grown intellectually, I still am basically the kind of person you could run in from next door and say, 'Hey, how about a cup of coffee?' . . . I have a lot of self-confidence and I don't go out of my way intentionally to say anything that is going to hurt anybody. But at the same time that does not mean I am not entitled to my own opinions. I feel strongly about them."
Two days later in the stately brick Lucey mansion across Madison's Lake Mendota from the university, a somewhat restrained Jean Lucey came closest to venting her near-legendary anger over a word most frequently used to describe her: "volatile."
"Sounds like a bomb," she complained. Resembling Keke Anderson enough to be her older sister, the short, olive-complexioned Jean Lucey argued that instead of an assessment of temperament, the word volatile revealed the sexist bias of her detractors. She thinks the detractors feel threatened by a "politically sophisticated" woman such as herself. Back in the early days of Pat Lucey's governorship, Jean Lucey, with her short fuse and earthy language, frequiently was called the Martha Mitchell of Wisconsin.
According to press reports:
"Why don't you get off your duffs and get jobs?" she demanded when welfare demonstrators blocked her gate.
She stunned legislators at a farewell party for them in the governor's mansion when she told them she didn't want their "girlfriends" and "floozies" eating and drinking on the governor's entertainment account.
She halted public tours of the executive residence and moved the Luceys back to their own home.
She never liked the role of a governor's wife."They want the governor's wife to have tea parties," she said. "Well, I don't like tea parties. I'm not a tea party dame."
In Wisconsin everybody loves to tell Jean Lucey stories and especially now that the Luceys are back in the spotlight. "People say a lot of things, don't they, about all of us," she said the other day. "I'm very direct and I'm very honest and I will always tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may."
Jean Lucey's trail of fallen chips finally led to a screened porch over looking Green Bay one Saturday afternoon in late August. It was there that she and Keke Anderson brokered the Anderson-Lucey ticket.
The former Wisconsin governor was more than willing to join the ticket. He had been ever since Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's candidacy for president fizzled out a dozen days earlier in New York City, and in a final dramatic protest against Jimmy Carter had resigned as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.
Pat Lucey had been a longtime Kennedy family supporter having worked for Jack and Bobby Kennedy's presidential campaigns, often alienating other political leaders in the Wisconsin Democratic Party. It wasn't surprising to anyone that he would continue his support of the Kennedys by backing Ted Kennedy and an open convention. Wisconsin reaction to Lucey's walkout had been vitriolic, and Lucey's family and friends, accustomed to years of working within the party, had been stunned by its intensity.
New York was swirling with speculation over John Anderson's anxious search for a running mate. The Illinois Republican's position in the polls had dropped between six and eight percentage points after the national nominating conventions. He needed a name to bolster his independent ticket. Patrick J. Lucey was somewhere on the list of possibilities, who included Gov. Hugh Carey and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, Boston Mayor Kevin White, Rep. ChristopherDodd of Connecticut, Gov. Richard D. Lamm of Colorado and Pittsburgh Mayor Peter Flaherty.
Of them all, Keke Anderson says only Lucey was invited to join the Anderson ticket.
Sequestered in their Waldorf Astoria Hotel suite -- and arguing -- were Jean and Pat Lucey.At issue was Pat Lucey's future in the Democratic Party he had helped organize in Wisconsin after World War II. He was executive director and state party chairman and was unsuccessful in an earlier bid for governor. He served as governor from 1970 to 1977, when he resigned to become ambassador to Mexico.
Fomenting mutiny aboard the Carter ship of state was one thing, but accepting a commission aboard an enemy man o' war seemed to be volunteering to walk the plank. So Jean Lucey, with support from the three Lucey children, was attempting to keep Pat Lucey from jumping overboard.
"The campaign is over, Pat, it's over," she told, fearing that he was being unrelistic in the emotional aftermath of his walkout. Arguing that all the press was after was news copy, she opposed a meeting he and Anderson set up, warned that any stories might be at his own expense and that he could wind up playing the fool.
It hadn't been pat's political future that worried her -- "we never made politics a career," she insisted two weeks later in Madison -- but rather that "we had been in politics so long and I had been ill earlier in the year. Pat's a workaholic and was pretty tired. At times he'd look at an ad for a trip around the world and say that would be kind of nice. I sort of had a mind set about that. I also felt a little disenchanted with what the two-party system came up with as candidates and what the reforms had brought us."
"Beyond that, the idea of longtime liberal Democrat Pat Lucey running for vice president on a third-party ticket struck her as just a little ludicrous -- "Yoy know," says a political associate, "like tilting at windmills."
On Aug. 23, 10 days after the Anderson-Lucey meeting in New York, another Anderson-Lucey meeting took place -- this one between the wives. Pat Lucey was already on record saying his decision would rest with his wife, so he was there more as spectator than participant. Anderson's top campaign strategist, Washington attorney Mitchell Orgovin, who met Jean Lucey a few days earlier, had found her to be a formidable holdout. Since Keke Anderson was scheduled to be Wisconsin for a fund-raiser anyway, what better advocate could there be of John Anderson's offer to Pat Lucey's Greek-American wife than John Anderson's Greek American wife?
Wisconsin artist and longtime Lucey supporter Madeline Tourtelot said later that she just might put a plaque on the screened porch of her 150-year-old house in Wisconsin's popular vacation retreat, Door County, where the Luceys first met Keke Anderson. Serving them fruit juice and wine, Tourtelot quickly disappeared, but "the moment they met I could tell they were friends -- they understood each other.
"Well," Jean Lucey said later of how she and Keke Anderson hit it off, "you get two Irish gals together and there's a similarity in ethnic background and culture, or two German girls or two English girls. We're proud of being Greek."
In the end, though, what saved the day was Keke Anderson's impassioned appeal to Jean Lucey's American heritage.
"I really wanted them to be John's vice president and John wanted them to be," Keke, "so I just talked about my concern for the next generation and that unless we try to make it a safe and sound tomorrow we haven't really done much."
She also says the reason John Anderson chose Pat Lucey "was me." Although everyone else was making a display of party unity, "when Pat Lucey stood up for what he believed in, resigned as a delegate and walked out of the convention, he was a man with the courage of his convictions . . . I think the two-party system has been fighting for political supremacy for so long that they've both forgotten something called the United States of America."
"It gave Jean a substantive reason, helped her take Anderson's bid for the White House as something serious," says a Lucey friend.
John Anderson and Mitch Rogovin were having dinner the next night when Keke anderson arrived back in Washington, triumphant in the tradition of a true daughter of the Hellenes. She hadn't gotten her way when she tried to convince them that John Anderson, a son of Illinois who became the third-ranking Republican during his 10 terms in Congress, should announce his candidacy for president at the Lincoln Memorial.But she was going to get her way on Pat Lucey.
"Boy," she told them, "you don't give me the easy jobs."
Keke Machakos was the youngest of a Boston barber's four children, Jean Vlasis one of nine children in a Milwaukee carpenter's family. Keke Machakos came to Washington as a State Department photographer after a year in secretarial school. Jean Vlasis, 15 years Keke Machakos' senior, came as a World WAR II WAVE and stayed on to work for former Rep. Andrew Biemiller.
The parallel does not end there, since both women met their husbands as a result of their Washington interludes. Keke Machakos married John Anderson, a young foreign service officer, in 1953. And after intervals in Berlin, Germany, and Rockford, Ill., she moved back to Washington. Jean Vlasis married Pat Lucey, a politically ambitious Madison real estate broker, in 1951. She met him at a Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner. She freed him for politics, took over his business and turned them into millionaires.
As the wife of an Illinois congressman, Keke Anderson spent 18 years rearing their five children. It didn't mean she wasn't aware of what was going on in the world around her, she says, adding that after almost never campaigning for John Anderson, "now I want to help him become president . . . It would be easy to just walk away if I really felt that Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter would make a good president and I could sleep for the next four years."
Since she knows she can neither walk away nor sleep, her influence on John Anderson's campaign operation has become considerable. "She is the last person to talk to her husband every night and the first every morning," says former Anderson campaign aide. "He depends on her instincts, though may not always take her advice."
Following a shakeup last week when three top aides resigned after Anderson put media adviser David Garth in control of the operation, Keke Anderson denied she had played any official role in personnel matters.
"But decisions had to be made quickly from here on in and it was John's decision to let David take over. David, after all, had been through campaigns before this one," she says. "After Labor Day, and this last push, you do have to have someone who's done it before and David is the one. It wasn't for any great financial recompense because this is not a campaign funded by $29.4 million. David really believes in John and could have had any other candidate he wanted this year."
One day after the Wisconsin primary, she says she showed up at campaign headquarters and told campaign manager Michael MacLeod that since they didn't know where funds would be coming from from then on, they had to start cutting down on some of the high salaries. When heads started rolling, stories circulated that she was meddlesome and even potentially harmful to the candidate.
"It's very tough, very tense," a former staffer recalls. "It produces some arguments because you have to allocate money in a tough way and somebody's pet project is going to get cut. Keke participated in most of the budgetary meetings, but she played less of a role in how money should be allocated, and more of a role in whether her home would have to be mortgaged."
Says Mitch Rogovin: "I recognize the intensity of this whole program and her interest in protecting his interests. Her concerns over money, as it turned out, weren't too off-base."
"I don't pretend for a minute tghat I would be confortable talking to heads of state about issues," says Keke Anderson. But she wouldn't hesitate a minute to debate Rosalynn Carter and Nancy Reagan. She had a call about that from the Phil Donahue show, but although she accepted the invitation she never heard anything more."
"So here I am," she says."Their husbands don't want to debate my husband and the wives don't want to go on television with me. If people putting shows together would word those invitations a little differently, something to the effect that any person responding the affirmative will go on the air whether it's one, two or three, people would accept like a shot. They wouldn't want the others to get all that free media time."
For all her outspokenness, Jean Lucey never had any public comments about the night in 1972 when she called police to the governor's mansion. According to newspaper reports, officer Hugh Morrsion found her upstairs kicking at a bedroom door and shouting and swearing at her husband, who was inside.
"She wanted the door open so she could get some of her things and go to their residence on Farwell Court [about a mile away]," according to Morrison's police report. He said he "maintained" the peace until Mrs. Lucey left.
It comes as no surprise, then, to media-wise Jean Lucey that such stories are told and retold whenever she or Pat Lucey is back in the news. Take the ones about how she behaved in Mexico when Pat Lucey was U.S. ambassador there from 1977 to 1979.
She absolutely "loved" Mexico and the Mexican people, and despite what anybody says she got along all right with the embassy wives, though there were a "a few disgruntled ones."
One in particular had "a hotshot TV job that paid her very well. Her husband was shifted to another job and she was irate so she started saying unkind things about me because she didn't want to leave Mexico."
Jean Lucey is vague about whether Marti Harden Villarreal, wife of then U.S. press attache Claude Villarreal, blamed her for her husband's transfer. "I suppose that's one way people vent their ire -- they can't take it out on the big man so they take it out on the little woman."
Marti Harden said this week, however, that her work with CBS radio English-language affiliate in Mexico City was "certainly not a hotshot job -- I worked four hours a day, five days a week because they needed a native English speaker. I certainly never would have said anything on the air about Mrs. Lucey or Mr. Lucey."
Hardin said that "almost nobody could stand her" and tells of a dinner party where Jean Lucey was "fussing" about having nothing to do in Mexico City. "Most of the women stayed away from her. Some wanted to get together with her to try to straighten things out. They worked through her long-suffering social secretary, but on the day they set for the meeting she never showed up.
And stories still circulate about how she ordered the annual Fourth of July celebration moved out of the residence and into the chancery. She told one foreign service officer that ""anybody who wants to come to the embassy is nothing but a freeloader and social climber." When she arriaved late at the party, General Services Officer Gus Peleuses told her that everybody was waiting for her. She replied to him in Greek: "I don't get paid to do this."
She regarded the Mexican stories circulating around her as being like all "the little rumors spreading around Washington that Pat was fired -- that they were going to withdraw him." She has a letter from Jimmy Carter "that has to be the most glowing letter he's ever written. It's right upstairs in my famous names files," she says.
She knew all along who it was back in Washington who was trying to do Pat Lucey in, even when nobody else thought she did. "they're there in the eye of the needle seeing reporters at parties in the White House, at functions here and there," she says. "In their sweet little way they can say something. hIt's not true but you know how that sort of gossip goes -- it travels."
Last winter Jean Lucey underwent seven hours of surgery for a gall bladder disorder, a condition she had had for some time. In Mexico it had been "draining" her energy. That and the 7,000-foot altitude, she says.
Sitting on her living room sofa where a needlepoint pillow read: "I love Mexico but oh my USA," Jean Lucey talked about her outspokenness. "Well, I'm very direct and honest -- you can take that two different ways. If people like you, they'll say 'Well, she's really direct, refreshing, honest.' If they don't like you, they'll use the other adjectives. I understand the game -- it doesn't bother me much." Those who know her say she is more subdued and restrained since she had the surgery. And while she says she's in "great shape," she worried at first that she might not have the energy to do what was expected of her in the campaign.
She never had to go out and "hustle votes for Pat -- Carrie Lee Nelson and I used to joke about how many votes we could lose for our husbands." And if the Anderson-Lucey ticket does outdistance the others, well, she'll probably do everything she can to promote classical music.
"Oh, sure, I sing when nobody's here. I pretended I'm a great opera star. Sometimes I pretend I'm a great Pulitizer Prize-winning writer. There are a million things I wanted to be, you see, and it's fun to have a little fantasy world."
But that fantasy world won't extend to a big social whirl if she moves into Vice President's House on Massachusetts Avenue.
"I think you entertain people and do what you have to do but I don't think the taxpayers like their money being spent on us having a high life.No," says Jean Lucey, who has been down this road before, "I don't think they send us to these jobs just to sauce up all the time."