Governor Michael Stanley Dukakis

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Governor Michael Stanley Dukakis

Also Known As: "Mike"
Birthplace: Brookline, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Panos Dukakis and Euterpe Dukakis
Husband of Kitty Dukakis
Father of Private; Private and John Dukakis
Brother of Stelian Panos Dukakis

Managed by: John Dukakis
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Governor Michael Stanley Dukakis

Michael Stanley Dukakis (/dʉˈkɑːkɨs/; born November 3, 1933) served as the 65th and 67th Governor of Massachusetts, from 1975 to 1979 and 1983 to 1991 respectively. He is the longest-serving Governor in Massachusetts history and only the second Greek American Governor in U.S. history, after Spiro Agnew. In 1988, he was the Democratic nominee for President, but lost to the Republican candidate, then–Vice President, George H. W. Bush.

Contents [show] Early life and education[edit] Dukakis's father Panos (1896–1979) was a Greek immigrant from Adramyttion (Edremit),[1] in Turkey, which was then the Ottoman Empire, who settled in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1912, and graduated from Harvard Medical School twelve years later, subsequently working as an obstetrician. Dukakis' mother Euterpe (née Boukis; 1903–2003) was a Vlach-Aromanian immigrant from Larissa, in Thessaly, northern Greece;[2] she and her family emigrated to Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1913.[3]

Dukakis attended Brookline High School in his hometown,[4] where he was an honor student and a member of the basketball, baseball, tennis, and cross-country teams.[5] He graduated from Swarthmore College in 1955, served in the U.S. Army 1955–1957, stationed in Korea, and then received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1960. Dukakis is also an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America.[6] Dukakis began his political career as an elected Town Meeting Member in the town of Brookline.[7]

Massachusetts governor[edit] First governorship (1975–1979)[edit]

Governor Dukakis speaks at the 1976 Democratic National Convention. Main article: Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 1974 After serving four terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives between 1962 and 1970 (and winning the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 1970[8]), Dukakis was elected governor in 1974, defeating the incumbent Republican Francis Sargent during a period of fiscal crisis. Dukakis won in part by promising to be a "reformer" and pledging a "lead pipe guarantee" of no new taxes to balance the state budget. He would later reverse his position after taking office. He also pledged to dismantle the powerful Metropolitan District Commission (MDC), a bureaucratic enclave that served as home to hundreds of political patronage employees. The MDC managed state parks, reservoirs, and waterways, as well as the highways and roads abutting those waterways. In addition to its own police force, the MDC had its own maritime patrol force, and an enormous budget from the state, for which it provided minimal accounting. Dukakis' efforts to dismantle the MDC failed in the legislature, where the MDC had many powerful supporters. As a result, the MDC would withhold its critical backing of Dukakis in the 1978 gubernatorial primary.

Governor Dukakis hosted President Ford and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during their visits to Boston in 1976 to commemorate the bicentennial of the United States.[citation needed] He gained some notice as the only politician in the state government who went to work during the Blizzard of 1978, during which he went to local TV studios in a sweater to announce emergency bulletins.[9] Dukakis is also remembered for his 1977 exoneration of Sacco and Vanzetti, two Italian anarchists whose trial sparked protests around the world.

During his first term in office, Dukakis commuted the sentences of 21 first-degree murderers and 23 second-degree murderers. Due to controversy engendered by some of these individuals having re-offended, Dukakis curtailed the practice later, issuing no commutations in his last three years as governor.[10]

However, his first term performance proved to be insufficient to offset a backlash against the state's high sales and property tax rates, which turned out to be the predominant issue in the 1978 gubernatorial campaign. Dukakis, despite being the incumbent Democratic governor, was refused renomination by his own party. The state's Democratic Party chose to support Director of the Massachusetts Port Authority Edward J. King in the primary, partly because King rode the wave against high property taxes, but more significantly because state Democratic Party leaders lost confidence in Dukakis' ability to govern effectively. King also enjoyed the support of the power brokers at the MDC, who were unhappy with Dukakis' attempts to dismantle their powerful bureaucracy. King also had support from state police and public employee unions. Dukakis suffered a scathing defeat in the primary, a disappointment that his wife Kitty called "a public death".[11]

Cabinet[edit] The First Dukakis Cabinet OFFICE NAME TERM Governor Michael Dukakis 1975–1979 Lt. Governor Thomas P. O'Neill III 1975–1979 Secretary of Transportation Frederick P. Salvucci 1975–1979 Secretary of Communities and Development William G. Flynn 1975–1979 Secretary of Environmental Affairs Evelyn Murphy 1975–1979 Secretary of Consumer Affairs Lola Dickerman Christine Sullivan 1975–1976 1976–1979 Secretary of Human Services Lucy W. Benson Jerald Stevens 1975–1975 1975–1979 Secretary of Elder Affairs James H. Callahan 1977–1979 Secretary of Administration & Finance John R. Buckley 1975–1979 Secretary of Public Safety Charles V. Barry 1975–1979 Secretary of Economic Affairs Howard N. Smith 1977–1979 Secretary of Energy Henry Lee 1975–1979 Second governorship (1983–1991)[edit] Main articles: Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 1982 and Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 1986 Four years later, having made peace with the state Democratic Party, MDC, the state police and public employee unions, Dukakis defeated King in a 're-match' in the 1982 Democratic primary. He went on to defeat his Republican opponent, John Winthrop Sears, in the November election. Future United States Senator, 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee, and US Secretary of State John Kerry was elected lieutenant governor on the same ballot with Dukakis, and served in the Dukakis administration from 1983 to 1985.

Dukakis served as governor during which time he presided over a high-tech boom and a period of prosperity in Massachusetts while simultaneously earning a reputation as a 'technocrat'.[citation needed] The National Governors Association voted Dukakis the most effective governor in 1986. Residents of the city of Boston and its surrounding areas remember him for the improvements he made to Boston's mass transit system, especially major renovations to the city's trains and buses. He was known for riding the subway to work every day as governor.[12][13]

In 1988, Dukakis and Rosabeth Moss Kanter, his economic adviser in the 1988 presidential elections, wrote a book entitled Creating the Future: the Massachusetts Comeback and Its Promise for America, an examination of the Massachusetts Miracle.[14][15]

Cabinet[edit] The Second Dukakis Cabinet OFFICE NAME TERM Governor Michael Dukakis 1983–1991 Lt. Governor John Kerry Evelyn Murphy 1983–1985 1987–1991 Secretary of Transportation Frederick P. Salvucci 1983–1991 Secretary of Communities and Development Amy S. Anthony 1983–1991 Secretary of Environmental Affairs James Hoyte John DeVillars 1983–1988 1988–1991 Secretary of Consumer Affairs Paula W. Gold Mary Ann Walsh 1983–1989 1989–1991 Secretary of Human Services Manuel C. Carballo Philip W. Johnston 1983–1984 1984–1991 Secretary of Elder Affairs Richard H. Rowland Paul J. Lanzikos 1983–1987 1987–1991 Secretary of Labor Paul Eustace 1983–1991 Secretary of Administration & Finance Frank Keefe L. Edward Lashman 1983–1988 1988–1991 Secretary of Public Safety Charles V. Barry 1983–1991 Secretary of Economic Affairs Evelyn Murphy Joseph Alviani Grady Hedgespeth Alden S. Raine 1983–1986 1986–1989 1989–1989 1989–1991 Secretary of Energy Sharon Pollard 1983–1989 1988 presidential campaign[edit] Main articles: United States presidential election, 1988 and Democratic Party presidential primaries, 1988

Michael Dukakis at a campaign rally in UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, the night before the US presidential election of 1988 (Mon, 7 Nov 1988). Using the phenomenon termed the "Massachusetts Miracle" to promote his campaign, Dukakis sought the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States in the 1988 United States presidential election, prevailing over a primary field that included Jesse Jackson, Dick Gephardt, Paul Simon, Gary Hart, Joe Biden and Al Gore, among others. Touching on his immigrant roots, Dukakis used Neil Diamond's ode to immigrants, "America", as the theme song for his campaign. Famed composer John Williams wrote "Fanfare for Michael Dukakis" in 1988 at the request of Dukakis's father-in-law, Harry Ellis Dickson. The piece was premiered under the baton of Dickson (then the Associate Conductor of the Boston Pops) at that year's Democratic National Convention. Dukakis won the Democratic nomination, with 2,877 out of 4,105 delegates. He chose Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas to be his vice presidential running mate. Dukakis was pro choice on the issue of abortion.[5]

Dukakis had trouble with the personality that he projected to the voting public. His reserved and stoic nature was easily interpreted to be a lack of passion; Dukakis was often referred to as "Zorba the Clerk". Nevertheless, Dukakis is considered to have done well in the first presidential debate with George Bush, but in the second debate, Dukakis had been suffering from the flu and spent quite a bit of the day in bed.[citation needed] His performance was poor and played to his reputation as being cold. During the campaign, Dukakis's mental health became an issue when he refused to release his full medical history and there were, according to The New York Times, "persistent suggestions" that he had undergone psychiatric treatment in the past.[16] In the 2008 film Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, journalist Robert Novak revealed that Republican strategist Lee Atwater had personally tried to get him to spread these mental-health rumors.[17]

Dukakis' general election campaign was subject to several criticisms and gaffes on issues such as capital punishment, the pledge of allegiance in schools, and most famously, the tank incident. Like the allegations of psychiatric problems, these were vulnerabilities which Atwater identified and exploited. In 1991, shortly before his death from a brain tumor, Atwater apologized to Dukakis for the "naked cruelty" of the 1988 campaign.[18][19]

Crime issues[edit] During the campaign, Vice President George H. W. Bush, the Republican nominee, criticized Dukakis for his traditionally liberal positions on many issues, calling him "a card-carrying member of the ACLU". Dukakis' support for a prison furlough program was a major election subject. During his first term as Governor, he had vetoed a bill that would have stopped furloughs for first-degree murderers.[20] During his second term, that program resulted in the release of convicted murderer William "Willie" Horton,[21] who committed a rape and assault in Maryland after being furloughed. George H. W. Bush mentioned Horton by name in a speech in June 1988, and a conservative political action committee (PAC) affiliated with the Bush campaign, the National Security Political Action Committee, aired an ad entitled "Weekend Passes", which used a mug shot image of Horton. The Bush campaign refused to repudiate the ad. That ad campaign was followed by a separate Bush campaign ad, "Revolving Door", criticizing Dukakis over the furlough program without mentioning Horton. The legislature canceled the program during Dukakis's last term.

The issue of capital punishment came up in the October 13, 1988, debate between the two presidential nominees. Because she knew the Willie Horton issue would be brought up, Dukakis's campaign manager, Susan Estrich, had prepared with Michael Dukakis an answer highlighting the candidate's empathy for victims of crime, noting the beating of his father in a robbery and the death of his brother in a hit-and-run car accident.[22] However, when Bernard Shaw, the moderator of the debate, asked Dukakis, "Governor, if Kitty Dukakis [his wife] were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?" Dukakis replied, "No, I don't, and I think you know that I've opposed the death penalty during all of my life", and explained his stance. After the debate,[22] many observers felt Dukakis's answer lacked the passion one would expect of a person discussing a loved one's rape and death. Many– including Dukakis himself– believe this, in part, cost him the election, as his poll numbers dropped from 49% to 42% nationally that night.[citation needed] Other commentators thought the question itself was unfair, in that it injected an irrelevant emotional element into the discussion of a policy issue and forced the candidate to make a difficult choice, while others believed that Dukakis dwelled too much on post-mortem reflections about this incident while the election was still in play in a way that was too self-effacing to the point of appearing self-pitying and defeatist, which only served to demoralize his campaign and reinforce the image of him as a weak leader.

Tank photograph[edit] Dukakis was criticized during the campaign for a perceived softness on defense issues, particularly the controversial "Star Wars" program, which he promised to weaken. In response to this, Dukakis orchestrated what would become the key image of his campaign, although it turned out quite differently from what he intended. On September 13, 1988 Dukakis visited the General Dynamics Land Systems plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan to take part in a photo op in an M1 Abrams tank. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, had been photographed in a similar situation in 1986, riding in a Challenger tank while wearing a scarf.[23] Compared with Dukakis' results, Thatcher's picture was very successful and helped her reelection prospects.[24] Footage of Dukakis was used in television ads by the Bush campaign, as evidence that Dukakis would not make a good commander-in-chief, and "Dukakis in the tank" remains shorthand for backfired public relations outings.[25]

Outcome[edit] The Dukakis/Bentsen ticket lost the election by a decisive margin in the Electoral College to George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle, carrying only 10 states and the District of Columbia. Dukakis himself blames his defeat on the time he spent doing gubernatorial work in Massachusetts during the few weeks following the Democratic Convention. Many believed he should have been campaigning across the country. During this time, his 17-point lead in opinion polls completely disappeared, as his lack of visibility allowed Bush to define the issues of the campaign. Dukakis has since stated that the main reason he lost was his decision "not to respond to the Bush attack campaign, and in retrospect it was a pretty dumb decision."[26]

Despite Dukakis's loss, his performance was a marked improvement over the previous two Democratic efforts. Dukakis made some strong showings in states that had voted for Republicans Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. He managed to pull off a close win in New York which at the time was the second largest state in terms of electoral votes, he also scored victories in states like Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Dukakis's home state of Massachusetts; Walter Mondale had lost all four, and since then, all three states have remained in the Democratic column for each subsequent presidential election. He swept Iowa, winning by 10 points, an impressive feat in a state that had voted Republican in the last five presidential elections. He won 43% of the vote in Kansas, a surprising showing in the home state of 1936 Republican presidential nominee Alf Landon, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, and future Republican nominee Bob Dole. In another surprising showing, he received 47% of the vote in South Dakota; in Montana, Dukakis won 46% of the vote in a state that had voted over 60% Republican four years earlier. Dukakis's relative strength in farm states was no doubt due to the serious economic difficulties these states were facing in the 1980s, and it was the strongest showing in the Midwest for a Democrat since 1976.[citation needed]

The 1988 election with electoral votes by state. Although Dukakis cut into the Republican hold in the Midwest, he failed to dent the emerging GOP stronghold in the South that had been forming since the end of World War II with a temporary reprieve with Jimmy Carter (along with future President Bill Clinton, albeit to a much lesser extent). He lost most of the South by a wide margin, with Bush's totals reaching around 60% in most states. He was able to hold Bush to 55% in Texas, though this was most likely due to Texas Lloyd Bentsen's presence on the ticket. He also carried most of the southern-central parishes of Louisiana, despite losing the state. He held onto the border state of West Virginia, and he captured 48% of the vote in Missouri. He also carried 41% in Oklahoma, a bigger share than any Democrat since Jimmy Carter.[citation needed]

Dukakis won 41,809,476 votes in the popular vote. He also received 40% or more in the following states: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont. Overall, the 1988 election showed a marked improvement in the popular vote for the Democrats. While he lost the popular vote, Dukakis's margin of loss (7.8%) was narrower than Jimmy Carter's in 1980 (9.7%) or Walter Mondale's in 1984 (18.2%).

In 2008, he reflected on his defeat during an interview with Katie Couric, in which he said he "owe[d] the American people an apology" because "if I had beaten the old man, we never would have heard of the kid, and we wouldn't be in this mess."[27]

Post–presidential election[edit] In early January 1989, Dukakis announced that he would not run for a fourth term. His final two years as governor were marked by increased criticism of his policies and significant tax increases to cover the economic effects of the U.S. economy's "soft landing" at the end of the 1980s and the recession of 1990.

After the end of his term, he served on the board of directors for Amtrak, and became a professor of political science at Northeastern University, a visiting professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University, and visiting professor in the Department of Public Policy at the School of Public Affairs at UCLA.[citation needed] Along with a number of other notable Greek Americans, he is a founding member of The Next Generation Initiative: a leadership program aimed at getting students involved in public affairs. In November 2008, Northeastern named its new Center for Urban and Regional Policy after Michael Dukakis and his wife Kitty.[citation needed]

Dukakis has developed a strong passion for grassroots campaigning and the appointment of precinct captains to coordinate local campaigning activities, two strategies he feels are essential for the Democratic Party to compete effectively in both local and national elections.[citation needed] In 2006, he and his wife worked to help Democratic candidate Deval Patrick in his successful effort to become governor of Massachusetts. He did the same in 2012 for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren. He has also been an advocate for effective public transportation and high-speed rail as a solution to automobile congestion and the lack of space at airports; and for extended learning time initiative in public schools.[28][29]

In August 2009, the 75-year-old Dukakis was mentioned as one of two leading candidates as a possible interim successor to Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate, after Kennedy's death.[30][31] Instead, Gov. Patrick named Paul G. Kirk, the other leading candidate and favorite of the Kennedy family who promised not to run in the special election, to fill the seat.[32]

Dukakis stated on January 31, 2014, that he was not in favor of an effort to rename South Station as the "Gov. Michael S. Dukakis Transportation Center". He went on to state that he would not object to the naming the as-yet unbuilt North-South Rail Link after him.[33]

Electoral history[edit] Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 1974[34] Party Candidate Votes % Democratic Michael Dukakis 992,284 53.50% Republican Francis W. Sargent 784,353 42.29% Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial primary, 1978[35] Party Candidate Votes % Democratic Edward J. King 442,174 51.07% Democratic Michael Dukakis 365,417 42.21% Democratic Barbra Ackermann 58,220 6.72% Massachusetts Democratic gubernatorial primary, 1982[36] Party Candidate Votes % Democratic Michael Dukakis 631,911 53.50% Democratic Edward J. King 549,335 46.51% Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 1982[37] Party Candidate Votes % Democratic Michael Dukakis 1,219,109 59.48% Republican John Winthrop Sears 749,679 36.57% Massachusetts gubernatorial election, 1986[38] Party Candidate Votes % Democratic Michael Dukakis 1,157,786 68.75% Republican George Kariotis 525,364 31.20% 1988 Democratic presidential primaries[39] Party Candidate Votes % Democratic Michael Dukakis 9,898,750 42.51% Democratic Jesse Jackson 6,788,991 29.15% Democratic Al Gore 3,185,806 13.68% Democratic Dick Gephardt 1,399,041 6.01% Democratic Paul M. Simon 1,082,960 4.65% Democratic Gary Hart 415,716 1.79% 1988 Democratic National Convention[40] Party Candidate Votes % Democratic Michael Dukakis 2,877 70.09% Democratic Jesse Jackson 1,219 29.70% Democratic Richard H. Stallings 3 0.07% Democratic Joe Biden 2 0.05% Democratic Dick Gephardt 2 0.05% Democratic Lloyd Bentsen 1 0.02% Democratic Gary Hart 1 0.02% US presidential election, 1988 (Popular Vote) Party Candidate Votes % Republican George H. W. Bush 48,886,597 53.4% Democratic Michael Dukakis 41,809,476 45.6% US presidential election, 1988 (Electoral College) Party Candidate Votes % Republican George H. W. Bush 426 79% Democratic Michael Dukakis 111 21% Family[edit] Dukakis is married to Katharine D. (Kitty) Dukakis. They have three children: John, Andrea, and Kara. During the second presidential debate on October 13, 1988, in Los Angeles, Dukakis revealed that he and his wife had had another child, who died about 20 minutes after birth. Dukakis is the first cousin of actress Olympia Zorich

The Dukakises continue to reside in the home that they bought in the early 1970s in Brookline, Massachusetts, where they both grew up, but live in Los Angeles during the winter while he teaches at UCLA.[42]

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Governor Michael Stanley Dukakis's Timeline

November 3, 1933
Brookline, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States