Lucey was first elected to governor in 1970. He served in Madison until halfway through a second term when he was selected by then-President Jimmy Carter to serve as ambassador to Mexico. Two years later, as John Anderson's vice presidential candidate on an independent ticket, Lucey tried to unseat Carter and prevent the Reagan Era in the 1980 presidential election.
"He's going to be remembered as one of Wisconsin's most influential citizens," said Wisconsin State Senator Fred Risser who served in the legislature under Lucey. "He turned Wisconsin into a two-party state."