Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic nominee for President, called upon local Democrats to organize “precinct by precinct” in his annual address to members of the West LA Democratic Club at a recent club elections meeting in Venice.
Dukakis, who challenged former President George H.W. Bush in 1988, urged club members to knock on doors and use the power of the Internet to organize block by block.
“There are 200,000 precincts in the United States,” the former three-term governor said. “The [Senator Barack] Obama campaign already has 640,000 donors. The Democratic National Committee has some three million donors nationwide, it is possible to organize each precinct and ensure that we run a 50-state effort, come the fall campaign.”
The former presidential challenger was accompanied by his wife Kitty at the event. Dukakis is a visiting professor at the UCLA School of Public Affairs and Department of Urban Planning.
It was the fourth time the former presidential hopeful has addressed the club’s general membership at its annual club elections meeting. About 100 club members attended the meeting.
Dukakis, who still lives in Massachusetts, discussed how precinct organization assisted the 2006 election of Gov. Deval Patrick, the first African-American to hold the office of governor since the election of Douglas Wilder of Virginia in 1989. Patrick captured 49 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary in a three-way race and went on to capture 56 percent of the vote in the general election.
“I personally went door-to-door and worked my neighborhood,” Dukakis said. “Campaigns need to become personal. Rudy Giuliani spent millions and didn’t receive a single delegate. Democrats will win when they organize and knock on doors.”
On the issue of who should be the Democratic nominee, Dukakis said he felt either Obama or Senator Hillary Clinton would make a “winning nominee.”
“I can’t stress enough the importance of precinct organization,” he said. “In 1988, I organized only half the State of Cal- ifornia and lost by two points. Had I run a better effort nationally and did the organizing we did in California, we might have had a different outcome.”
The former governor went on to explain that a highly sophisticated precinct operation could translate to larger Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate.
“For the next president to be successful, he or she will need more Democrats in the congress to get their agenda moving,” he said.
West LA Democratic Club president Kelley Willis, who was re-elected to a second term, said of Dukakis, “He’s bright, thoughtful and articulate. Gov. Dukakis presented to the membership a motivational blueprint on how to secure victory and his comments were well received.”
The other 2008 club officers elected at the meeting include Cara Robin, vice president of operations; Alan Baili, vice president of political issues; Suzanne Kite, treasurer; Julie Goodman, secretary; Greg Good, Tim Goodrich and Suzanne Scarmack, members at-large.
Information, www.westladem club.org/.