Patrick J. Lucey, who spent much of his political career building the Democratic Party in his home state, yesterday became the running mate of independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson.
The former Wisconsin governor did so with a bitter denunciation of President Carter, who three years ago appointed Lucey ambassador to Mexico. p
"I have not abandoned the Democratic Party," Lucey declared in a press conference at the National Press Club. "It is Jimmy Carter who has abandoned the Democratic Party."
"He has abandoned the Democratic Party's historic commitment to full employment, and has deliberately thrown millions of Americans out of their jobs . . . He has abandoned the Democratic Party's traditional faith in the people by blaming the ills of the nation on the malaise of the people rather than on his own ineptitude."
Lucey, 62, brings to the fledging Anderson campaign a reputation as an effective, if not exceedingly popular Midwestern governor, and as a skilled political operative. He also brings close ties to the Kennedy wing of the Democratic Party. Lucey was Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's deputy campaign manager this year, and had key roles in the presidential campaigns of Kennedy's brothers.
But he lacks the national reputation that some Anderson supporters had hoped the Illinois congressman would find in a vice presidential running mate.
Lucey deflicted questions about his lack of name recognition, saying that in an age of "instant communications," the country "creates celebrities overnight." He said he would provide Anderson with valuable links to Kennedy Democrats and organized labor.
Lucey's selection also ignores the traditional geographic balance typical of most presidential tickets. The Wisconsin border is less than 20 miles from Anderson's hometown of Rockford, Ill.
Furthermore, because of his late selection, Lucey's name won't even appear on the Wisconsin ballot. Instead, Gerald Larson, a Madison dentist, will be listed as a running mate. Larson's name was included as a stand-in vice presidential candidate when Anderson filed his nominating papers last month.
Anderson, insisting Lucey was his first and only choice as running mate, dismissed questions about geographic balance as examples of "the old politics." dHe said Lucey met his three qualifications for vice president: he is a Democrat, he is an experienced veteran of elective office, and he is "fully qualified, in intellect, character and experience, to assume the office of president."
"Pat Lucey and I deeply believe that this nation faces its most serious challenge since the Second World War, and that the nominees of the traditional parties offer neither new ideas nor credible leadership to the American people."
The Anderson-Lucey ticket, he added, will "change the election of the 1980s from a dilemma to a real choice."
Lucey's selection comes at a time when Anderson's campaign needs a boost. Anderson's standing in several national polls has recently dipped below 15 percent, the figure the League of Women Voters has set as a standard for inclusion with the Democratic and Republican party nominees in three presidential debates the league plans to sponsor.
Anderson yesterday angrily accused the Carter administration of "cynically trying to sandbag" the league and the American people by attempting to find other sponsor's for a two-way debate between Carter and Ronald Reagan, the GOP standard-bearer.
This effort, outlined Sunday by White House chief of staff Jack Watson, is typical of "the back-pedaling tactics of the present occupant of the Oval Office," he said.
Lucey charged that Carter was attempting to renege on debating Anderson, just as he reneged on a pledge to debate Kennedy earlier this year. "As I read the papers this morning I felt this is where I came in," Lucey said at his press conference.
Anderson used the selection of a running mate as a long-running political tease to build up interest in his campaign during the slow summer months. His campaign floated names of a half dozen officeholders and former officeholders as potential vice presidents.
Anderson held a series of highly publicized meetings in recent weeks with New York Gov. Hugh Carey, Boston Mayor Kevin White, Rep. Shirely Chisholm (D-N.Y.), Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm and other Democrats, adding to speculation.
Anderson held his first meeting with Lucey during the Democratic National Convention in New York. Lucey has resigned as a convention delegate after it became apparent that Kennedy's candidacy was doomed, and the rage from Wisconsin Democrats.
The influential Milwaukee Journal labeled Lucey as "a fallen icon" in his own party. The newspaper quoted on formely close Lucey associate as champion going around to county fairs, talking on all comers as $25 each."
My conclusion is that he would not be of any use to Anderson -- or anyone else," said Ray Majerus, chairman of the Wisconsin delegation and secretary-treasure of the United Auto Workers union.
In joining the Anderson ticket yesterday, Lucey, in a good natured press conference laced with flashes of humor, said he wasn't leaving the Democratic Party.
"I've had more or less 50 years of activity in behalf of the Democratic Party," he said. "A college professor aftr seven years gets a sabbactical. It seems to me after 50 years I'm entitled to a two-month sabbatical" to run for vice president.
In Wisconsin, Lucey is known as a liberal Democrat who beat the Republicans at their own game. In his Illinois congressional district, Anderson was known as a loyal Republican, a conservative on fiscal and a moderate on social issues.
Lucey said Anderson hadn't demanded of him a pledge of complete agreement on all issues that may surrface in the campaign. He added that he favors a comprehensive national health insurance program, advanced by Kennedy, that Anderson opposes, and said that if he had been in Congress with the Illinois Republican he would have voted differently on "some labor issues."
The two men, however, insisted they agree on most issues. They have several similarities. Both find themselves on the outside of their respective parties with nowhere to go at the end of long and successful public careers.
Both are somewhat shy, reserved men, who disdain some political niceties. Both are married to strong-willed women of Greek ancestry who have sometimes caused them political embarrassment. The Andersons and the Luceys even look somewhat alike. The two men are about the same height with white or silver-grey hair. Their wives, Keke Anderson and Jean Lucey look like they could be sisters.
Lucey first became involved in politices as a 10-year-old schoolboy in Ferryville, Wis., a small Mississippi River town south of La Crosse. He and his family were Catholics and Democrats in a town dominated by Republican Protestants, and he claims to have gotten into schoolyard fights over Al Smith, the 1928 Democratic nominee who ran unsuccessfully against Herbert Hoover.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin and owner of a successful real estate and investment firm, Lucey is a millionaire. He made his reputation in Wisconsin rejuvenating the Democratic Party after World War II.
His political career has been linked with the liberal wing of the part, and the Kennedy family for two decades. As chairman of the state Democratic Party, he backed John F. Kennedy against Hubert H. Humphrey in the critical 1960 Wisconsin primary, which Kennedy won. He was active in Robert F. Kennedy's 1968 campaign for the presidential nomination, and after Kennedy's death became convention floor manager for Eugene J. McCarthy.
He was elected lieutenant governor in 1964, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1966, and was elected governor by narrow margins over relatively weak Republicans in 1970 and 1974.