Each year since 1999, The Luncheon Society season usually begins with gatherings in LA and SF with former Massachusetts Governor and 1988 Democratic Presidential nominee Mike Dukakis.
Happy to be free of Boston winters while teaching at UCLA, we usually have a January gathering in Westwood’s Napa Valley Grille for a great group of people. Because Mike and Kitty have grandchildren in San Francisco, we are often able to schedule a gathering on a Friday afternoon.
The Basic Dukakis Message to any candidate. If you’re going to run statewide in Massachusetts, there are 2182 voter precincts. The candidate needs to appoint a precinct captain for every precinct. Each Precinct Captain needs to appoint 6 assistants who live within the precinct. He will warn that you cannot have Labor or other groups come into your precincts days before the election for any desired effect. These people need to live in the precinct, and they have to be in sustained contact with the voters for weeks and months before Election Day.
Elizabeth Warren and Duval Patrick, two people who had never run statewide, heard that speech in the Dukakis living room in Brookline. They took it to heart and both won their elections. In the case of Warren, who was looking to unseat popular US Senator Scott Brown, polls showed that they were running neck and neck on Election Eve. However, once the votes were counted, Warren found herself with a solid seven point win. In the end, as Dukakis sees things, a solid grassroots campaigning can add 5-7% to your election tally, enough to turn a nail biter into a solid win.
Great story. Years ago, we had a Luncheon Society with Dukakis and he underlined the importance of a strong ground game. An unnamed political operative around the table took issue with his approach. He said, “Governor, in California it’s just too hard to walk precincts.”
Dukakis stopped him in mid-sentence and said, “Look, I walked precincts while the Boston Strangler was on the loose—now that’s hard!”Continue reading