Category Archives: Mike Dukakis

The Luncheon Society/Michael Dukakis on the 2012 election/LA—Napa Valley Grille/January 14, 2012/SF-Credo/February 24, 2012/Boston-Sandrine’s/April 25, 2012

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Each year, Michael Dukakis kicks off the first Southern California Luncheon Society gathering and this year was no different. Joining us in Los Angeles at Napa Valley Grille on Saturday January 14th and then making the trek up to San Francisco on February 24th at Credo, Mike Dukakis has always brought an informative and self-deprecatory approach to getting his message out. Each year he has mentioned that if he had beaten Bush in 1988, he would be speaking to us in another capacity—and says that if he beaten the Old Man, nobody would have ever heard about The Son. In Boston, the former Governor talked about the business of statecraft and why it matters.

Both Mike and Kitty Dukakis were early Barack Obama supporters and were impressed that they built a grass roots campaign to connect with voters, something the DNC forgot about in the 2010 midterm elections. Dukakis believes that Democrats needs to organize down to the small precinct. He believes that six-to-eight block captains per precinct must organize repeated door-knocking excursions and report any supporters or potential supporters back to a precinct captain. In turn, they must be responsible for getting those supporters to the polls on Election Day. “It’s neighbors seeing neighbors. It’s putting a human face on the political process. It’s engaging people in conversations on issues they care about and responding to them.”

The first question Dukakis will ask anybody running for office is “How many precincts do you have? How many of those precincts have captains?”


Grass Roots campaigns based on old-fashioned-precinct-walking shoe leather will deliver a 5-10% incremental lift each and every time. Colorado Senator Michael Bennet personally credits “The Dukakis Lecture” to getting him to retool his campaign to incorporate a grassroots effort which resulted in a narrow come-from-behind win on Election Night 2010.

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The Luncheon Society/First Half 2010 recap/What’s coming up in the Second Half

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I thought I would quickly touch base now that we have completed the first half of 2010. Thus far  there have been 19 gatherings San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Manhattan.  We look for an equal number in the second half and should round out the year at 38-40.

Reminder.  To remind everybody, the SF and the LA Luncheon Society gatherings for Christopher Hitchens have been postponed and will be rescheduled later in 2010.

The Luncheon Society website.  For those who are unable to join us around the table,  you can subscribe to have The Luncheon Society summaries sent via email.  Click on the links below to learn more about the luncheons. Continue reading

The Luncheon Society/Gov. Michael Dukakis/LA-Napa Valley Grille, January 9, 2010/SF-One Market, February 26, 2010

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At a Luncheon Society ™ event several years ago, Michael Dukakis talked about walking precincts. He could not understand those who favored high cost television ads or mailings over the elbow grease of building a grassroots operation. He believed that the best way to know the voters was to knock on their doors and ask for their support.

Dukakis insisted that a good grassroots organization could deliver an extra 5% turnout, which could be the difference between a win and a loss. Massachusetts, Dukakis noted, had 2,300 voter precincts and each precinct could have 5 block captains. If you built a volunteer army of 10,000 people, Dukakis noted, you became unbeatable. Those who solely relied on media campaigns and direct mail pieces often discovered their support was often a mile wide and an inch deep.  

However, one person took issue.  He said that California was too big, too much a “media state” and walking precincts was on the wane because there were too many high tech approaches to drive voter contact. Los Angeles was not like Boston or New York, the person continued. LA was 88 communities held together by miles of double-ribbon freeway and at the end of the day, walking all of those neighborhoods was just too hard.

“That’s not hard. I used to walk precincts when The Boston Strangler was on the loose,” Dukakis replied. “Now that’s hard.”

The Luncheon Society Regular.   Mike Dukakis has joined The Luncheon Society on a regular basis since 1999. In January, he led a discussion in Los Angeles for his 13th appearance and a month later in San Francisco for his 14th visit. In 2010, we hope to get him into Manhattan to visit the third pod of The Luncheon Society.

Over the years, The Luncheon Society  has quietly convened hundreds times for movable feasts at over 40 restaurants like Palio D’Asti, which is hidden away on California Street in San Francisco or Chez Mimi, which caters to the entertainment industry in Santa Monica. The kindness of a gracious friend allowed us to use The Lotos Club, one of the oldest literary clubs in the United States, frequented by the likes of Mark Twain and today residing in a Manhattan mansion once owned by the Vanderbilt family. Continue reading