'Dollar Bill' Bucks the Odds

The Great Liberal Hope from Wall Street

It's hard to speak to those issues when you're depedent on corporate largesse, PACs or no, and in the past, Bradley's had no shortage of private-sector financial support. In 1992, the Center for Responsive Politics crowned him "The King of Bundled Contributions" for netting approximately half a million dollars in individual contributions from the executives of nine major corporations or brokerage houses. And he's always been one to look after corporate interests in his home state: though he could rightly claim credit for a major role in the 1986 tax bill that lowered rates and closed loopholes, he spent years protecting Section 936 of the Tax Code, which effectively allowed corporations (including many New Jersey­based pharmaceutical companies) to pay no taxes on products made in Puerto Rico. It wasn't for nothing that The New York Timesonce said he was "widely viewed as the [pharmaceutical] industry's most effective defender in Congress": he also fought hard to save pharmaceutical giant Merck from paying $10 million in import fees and was successful in stopping a bill that sought to bar drug manufacturers from increasing prescription medication prices higher than the Consumer Price Index.

To most liberals, any Bradley campaign finance issues— be they help to constituent donors then or sources of funds now— are seen as small beer. "It's an easy hypocrisy," says Robert Borosage, "but it doesn't bother me, because he wouldn't be in the game if he wasn't raising money. Though the question of 'What's the cost?' is legitimate. You want someone who's saying things and is committed to same-day voter registration and [campaign- finance] reform, right-to-choose, better racial relations. But what about trade? He's silent, and that's a big deal. He made a commitment to Wellstone that he'd be for comprehensive health care. If he makes that a centerpiece of his campaign, that would be very impressive to more liberals. He has raised a lot of money on Wall Street. Having done that, if he can still find a way to talk about the global economy and rules that work for working people . . . " Borosage pauses. "That would be impressive. Then you would see people going, 'This guy is a real alternative.' "

Nonetheless, Mr. Beatty, we're ready for your screen test.

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