Bradley gains on Gore in Mass. fund-raising race

By Tina Cassidy, Globe Staff, 10/19/99

emocratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley has nearly caught up with Vice President Al Gore in fund-raising in Massachusetts, and outraised Gore 2-to-1 here during the last three months.

Bradley is collecting checks from some seemingly unlikely quarters in Massachusetts, including Fidelity Investments, Harvard - Gore's alma mater - and friends of President Clinton's.

While local contributions to Bradley surged in the latest reporting period, those to Gore appeared to be trailing off. Between July and September, Bradley took in $396,000 from in-state supporters, while Gore received only $196,000, according to the Federal Elections Commission's just-completed third quarter filings.

Gore has taken about $750,000 from donors in Massachusetts this year, while Bradley has collected just under $700,000.

Some donors to Bradley are not surprising: Retired Celtics star John Havlicek wrote a $1,000 check in June. But a closer look at donor lists indicates broader support.

For example, former Clinton administration labor secretary Robert Reich, now a professor at Brandeis University, gave Bradley $1,000, the maximum allowed under federal guidelines. And Nancy Klemm, who, with her husband, Cambridge developer Richard Friedman, has repeatedly opened their Martha's Vineyard summer home to Clinton, also contributed $1,000 to Bradley.

Some prominent donors appear to be covering their bets and giving to both candidates, another indicator of Bradley's viability. Former Democratic National Committee chairman Paul Kirk gave to both candidates.

''Not that I have money to throw around, but I wanted to be even with them,'' Kirk said. ''The primary process needs a debate and a dialogue [but] money becomes the first primary in this thing. The second reason is I'm cochair of the commission on presidential debates ... . In that role, I really want to be - and be perceived to be - neutral and even-handed with the candidates who come to that forum.''

Harvard University now ranks among some of the top employers nationwide contributing to Bradley, along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Fidelity Investments, and State Street Bank. Bradley, a Rhodes Scholar, graduated from Princeton University.

Harvard professors Cornel West, who is advising Bradley on race issues, and Christopher Jencks each gave the maximum contribution to Bradley, as did MIT's Lester Thurow, the economist.

Fidelity administration chief David Weinstein also gave $1,000. State Street Bank's chairman and CEO, Marshall Carter, and his wife, Mary, each contributed the maximum.

Gore spokesman Christopher Lehane downplayed Bradley's surge in Massachusetts while arguing that the vice president's support is more broad-based.

''If you look at the number of donors that we had, we far exceeded anyone, on the Democratic or Republican side, in terms of the number of donors. We had more than 128,000 donors nationwide. And we also had the smallest average donor level,'' Lehane said, adding that Gore does not accept contributions from political action committees. ''We have support at the grass-roots level.''

Other notable $1,000 Bradley donors: advertising executive Jack Connors; concert promoter Don Law; financier Thomas Lee; developers Frank and Jamie McCourt; real estate executives Kevin Phelan and Ron Druker; bankers Chad Gifford and John Hammill; Staples CEO Thomas Stemberg; Nantucket Nectars founder Tom Scott.

Peter Nessen, former secretary of administration and finance for Republican Governor William F. Weld, gave Bradley $500.

Many of these same people - Lee among them - had earlier contributed the maximum amount to Gore.

Bradley also tapped his close relationship with the late US Senator Paul Tsongas of Lowell, who shared his low-key, cerebral brand of politics. Tsongas's sister, Thalia Schlessinger, donated the most allowed, as did Tsongas aide and confidant Dennis Kanin and his wife, Carol Kanin.

Bradley aides say they have only held a couple of fund-raisers in Massachusetts, including a large one in October. Donations from that event won't be public until the next Federal Election Commission quarterly filing deadline at the end of December, the same month another large fund-raiser is being planned in the state for Bradley.

For the nine-month period ending Sept. 30, Gore was leading with $745,085 in donations from Massachusetts, compared with $689,969 for Bradley.

Gore, the top-grossing Democrat, has $27.4 million in his war chest, according to the most recent FEC records available, while Bradley is in second place with $19.1 million overall.

By contrast, Republican contender George W. Bush has a record-breaking $57.7 million year-to-date, followed by rival John McCain's $9.4 million.