Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 1975-1979, 1983-1991
Michael Dukakis served an unprecedented three, four-year terms as Governor. He entered the Governor's office as a cost-cutting fiscal conservative to fix the debt-riddled state budget. Buoyed by budget success and a rapidly expanding economy, he expanded state services and promoted the "Massachusetts Miracle" as a model for America in his 1988 run for the Presidency.
A Brookline native, Mr. Dukakis attended public school there. He graduated from Swarthmore in 1955 and served in Korea 1956-1958 in the U.S. Army. He studied at the Harvard Law School, graduating in 1960. Mr. Dukakis began a private legal practice and served in Brookline's Town Meetings before being elected a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, 1962-1970. As a legislator, he promoted consumer protection, conservation, and introduced the first "no-fault" auto insurance legislation in the United States. He made an unsuccessful bid to serve as Lieutenant Governor and then returned to private legal practice and hosted a weekly local television show, The Advocates.
In 1974, Mr. Dukakis stood for election against incumbent Governor Francis Sargent. Dukakis promised to reduce the trappings of the Governor's office, reign in state spending, and balance the state budget with no new taxes. In following through on his promises to cut spending, Governor Dukakis alienated fellow party Democrats serving in the legislature. Though he reduced spending, Governor Dukakis balanced the state budget with the largest tax increase in Massachusetts' history. Governor Dukakis did not secure his party's nomination for reelection in 1978.
In 1982, Mr. Dukakis staged an upset defeat of incumbent Governor Edward King, with 53% of the votes to King's 47%. This victory, billed as an "early referendum on Reaganomics" raised Mr. Dukakis' national profile. A robust economy allowed him to balance budgets while expanding job training and social services. In 1986, Governor Dukakis was recognized as the "most effective governor in America" by the National Governors Association. Two years later he ran for the U.S. Presidency with Texan Lloyd Bentsen as his running mate for Vice President. Though the pair at one point had a 17-point lead, they lost in nearly every state, carrying only 53% of Massachusetts' vote. Mr. Dukakis won a third term as Governor and contended with mounting deficits as the national economy cooled along with the Massachusetts Miracle.
Michael Dukakis went on to serve for over a decade as a visiting professor at Northeastern University and as a lecturer in public management at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.