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Patrick Lucey, former Wisconsin governor and ambassador to Mexico, dies at age 96

In this Feb. 10, 2008 photo, former Gov. Patrick J. Lucey speaks at a memorial service for the late U.S. Senator William Proxmire at Capitol in Madison, Wis. Lucey, a hard-nosed Democratic politician who later became ambassador to Mexico, died Saturday, May 10, 2014. He was 96. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, Joseph W. Jackson III)

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In this Feb. 10, 2008 photo, former Gov. Patrick J. Lucey speaks at a memorial service for the late U.S. Senator William Proxmire at Capitol in Madison, Wis. Lucey, a hard-nosed Democratic politician who later became ambassador to Mexico, died Saturday, May 10, 2014. He was 96. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, Joseph W. Jackson III)

MILWAUKEE - Former Wisconsin Gov. Patrick Lucey, a hard-nosed Democratic politician who later became ambassador to Mexico, has died. He was 96.

His son, Paul Lucey, says Patrick Lucey died Saturday night at the Milwaukee Catholic Home after a brief illness.

Lucey was elected governor in 1970 and won re-election in 1974, but left midway through his second term to serve as then-President Jimmy Carter's ambassador to Mexico.

Lucey also ran for vice-president of the United States as an independent with John Anderson in 1980.

He will perhaps be remembered most in Wisconsin for pushing to merge the University of Wisconsin in Madison with the state college system, a fierce battle that created a system of 13 four-year state colleges.

Lucey was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in 1918.

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