Rich Dunn is a member of the Democratic Men’s Committee of Carson City, which hosts weekly luncheons featuring a variety of speakers.
So it’s the Democratic Men’s Club of Carson City that puts these on?
Well, we now use the term “committee.” … And we changed our name to committee because the secretary of state’s office said we’d have reporting requirements if we weren’t a subset of the central committee.
How long have you been having these luncheons?
Well, I’m glad you asked that question. … The first one was March the 5th of last year—2018. And the intention originally was to have them once a month with reservations and ask for a contribution of 10 dollars. So, there was a price of admission to get in of 10 dollars, and then you had to buy your own food, so it really added up. And then the restaurant we were meeting at, they had a better offer and they kind of escorted us out the door. So, I had to look for a better place, and that turned out to be—to my surprise—Round Table Pizza, which, to my amazement has a banquet room. … It works just great. They have a nice, big TV we can put our PowerPoints onto, and we bring in our own little sound system, and there’s sliding doors that isolate us from the rest of the building. It’s worked out well, and they’re very helpful.
Tell me a bit about the purpose of the luncheons.
All we were talking about initially was, “How do we support the central committee, except to ask everybody to give a monthly donation?” And I raised my hand and said, “Well, why don’t we just have luncheons where we ask for donations?” Even though you can’t charge people to enter or something like that, at least it gives them the feeling that they’ve gotten something for their money. It’s not just, “We need money. Give me your money.” It’s a chance to sit down and socialize. We have, like, a half an hour before the speaker gets up for people to get their pizza and their salad and interact. And, so, we get to know each other—and that’s very positive. And we learn a heck of a lot doing this. But the original and primary purpose is that I sit by the door and look very sad until they make an offer. But I emphasize that it’s not a price of admission. It’s not a mandatory donation. I don’t care who you are, if you walk right by me and sit down, I’m still very happy. I don’t keep track of the people who don’t donate. I only keep track of the amount that people do donate, so you’re not going to be shaming yourself if you don’t donate. … Everybody is invited, and sometimes we get trouble-makers but not very often. And they don’t make much trouble—because we have answers. They’re asking what they think are stumpers, and we tend to know what we’re talking about. …
How do you pick the speakers?
You know, the main way I do that is I read the newspapers. I read the Reno Gazette Journal. I read the Lahontan Valley News. … I read the Appeal, and I read USA Today. …
What topics have you guys discussed?
Well, last Monday we had CW Bayer, who’s a local musician and local historian. And he’s written an incredible book that I really recommend called Reno’s Jazz Hysteria. … The week before that was representatives of the Bernie Sanders campaign. Because we’ve got the caucuses coming up, I’m giving first priority to the campaigns. So coming up on the 20th, that Martin Luther King Day, I’ve got Cory Booker’s campaign—not the candidate, you know, this is their people putting their best foot forward. And I make a point of saying, “These are not rallies. Don’t come here to cheer. Come here with your tough questions.”