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The tide that carried former Gov. Michael S. Dukakis to the Democratic nomination for, governor Tuesday also swept over the Cambridge area, giving three young, progressive candidates victories over their more traditional, conservative opponents.
In the fights for the 29th Middlesex House seat, Peter A. Vellucci, a local insurance salesman, crushed 16-year incumbent Michael Lombardi, with 67 percent of the vote. In the Middlesex County District Attorney' contest, L. Scott Harshburger '64 unseated 23-year incumbent John J. Droney, taking nearly half the votes in a four-man race, And Sen. George Bachrach successfully defended the Middlesex and Suffolk seat he won two years ago, winning a clear majority against three challengers.
An unusually large turnout left its mark on most cases. The bitter rematch between Gov. Edward J. King and the man he beat four years ago, Michael S. Dukakis, drew more than a million voters across the state. In Cambridge alone, 25,000 Democrats cast ballots Tuesday, twice as many as in 1980 and 60 percent more than in 1978.
The additional voters tended to be liberals, many recruited by a massive Dukakis organization effort. Cifford Truesdale. Vellucci's campaign manager, said yesterday that his candidate benefited from the support of "people who came out and voted for Dukakis who did not vote before."
Similarly, voters were pulled out by a disaffection with President Reagan's economic policies and by their determination to protest its negative effects. Martin C. Foster, chairman of the Democratic City Committee. called the election "a reaction to national policies, and the perception that some Democrats don't adhere to traditional Democratic policies." He noted that Vellucci and Bachrach publicly denounced Reagnomics, while their opponents had remained, for the most part, silent.
Changing demographics also had their effect. More and more minorities have moved into East Cambridge, and they apparently tilted towards Vellucci, helping throw at least two wards of that neighborhood to him. More white collar liberals have moved into parts of traditionally blue collar North Cambridge, Bachrach, who lost that part of his district in 1980, took it solidly this time around.
Bachrach, Vellucci and Harshbarger all benefited from high name recognition, the result of having run for their respective offices once before. Bachrach had last time won in a stunning upset of a two-decade incumbent, and Vellucci and Harsbarger had each come within a few hundred votes of doing the same.
In addition, as Dukakis did statewide, the three put together highly efficient machinery. While neither Lombardi nor Droney ran very visible campaigns, Harshbarger and Vellucci poured hours into the district, shaking hands and winning endorsements. As a senator, Bachrach has scrupulously taken care of constituent relations, even holding weekly office hours in different parts of the district. Happy Green, Bachrach's campaign manager said, "His approach is to be up-front and accessible, even if you don't agree with him."
Bachrach himself played down the more general conclusions, arguing. "It's not so much a Left-Right thing." He noted that in general, the long-term incumbents had gotten out of touch, and that consequently resulted in "a growing frustration with government."
Lavea Brachman, L. Joseph Garcia and Holly A. Idelson assisted with the reporting of this story.
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