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Race For Tip O'Neill's Congressional Seat Heats Up

By Martha A. Bridegam

Seven months before the September 18 Democratic primary, the list of candidates scrambling to succeed the retiring Speaker of the House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill and represent the Eighth Congressional District has reached fourteen.

The traditionally influential and perennially Democratic seat, which represents Cambridge, Allston, Brighton and other neighborhoods, was represented in the past by John F. Kennedy '40, John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, and former Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, among other political luminaries.

The race has drawn national attention, fueled by the entrance of Democrat Joseph P. Kennedy II, son of Robert F. Kennedy '48.

The other Democratic contenders thus far are: State Senator and activist George Bachrach (D-Watertown), State Representatives Thomas M. Gallagher (D-Brighton), William F. Galvin (D-Allston), and Thomas J. Vallely (D-Back Bay), former State Representative and two-time Boston mayoral candidate Mel King, Cambridge activist Carla Johnston, James Roosevelt Jr. '68--a grandson of Franklin D. Roosevelt '04--Boston City Councilor Albert L. "Dapper" O'Neil, who entered the race this week, Watertown international lawyer James Spiegal, and Robert M. Cappucci.

Republicans in the race are businessman Clark Abt, Markham H. Lyons, and physician Mildred F. Jefferson, who is scheduled to announce her candidacy next Saturday, Feb. 22.

Roosevelt recently made headlines by urging his opponents to refuse Political Action Committee contributions. Bachrach, Vallely, and Kennedy say their campaigns have not accepted such contributions, and Johnston has pledged to run her campaign entirely on private contributions.

Since his entry into the race on December 4, Kennedy has consistently led polls of voter support. He comes to the race from his positon as president and founder of Citizens Energy Corp., a non-profit fuel assistance business. Kennedy is by far the most visible of the candidates, and has received strong support from his family.

Kennedy supports the nuclear freeze and has concentrated much of his campaign rhetoric on the issues of arms control and defense budget cuts. He said on Friday that if cuts in defense and domestic programs cannot reduce the deficit sufficiently, he would support a tax hike.

State Sen. George Bachrach portrays himself as an iconoclast and not "a back-slapping member of the club." His record of activism includes demonstrations against the Vietnam War, civil rights advocacy, anti-nuclear rallies, and a 1984 arrest while protesting in the offices of Deak-Perera, a dealer in South African gold Krugerrands.

In the legislature, Bachrach has advocated rent control, comparable-worth pay, minority, women's, and gay rights, and increased government funding for health care. He also served on the Senate Rules Reform Committee that led to the 1985 adoption of new procedures for the body.

Vallely, a former Marine, has close associations with U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), and, like Kerry, has been active in Vietnam Veterans Against The War. Billing himself "the other guy," he has launched a massive publicity campaign, partially financed by $71,000 of his own money.

King, who already claims considerable support from his two campaigns for mayor and his work as a civil rights leader, pledges to "empower the people" and advocates large defense cuts, expanded civil rights legislation, and improved social services.

Gallagher is active in the Democratic Socialists of America--more so than Bachrach, who is also a member--and is considered the most leftward of the candidates by many observers. He has received $350 in campaign contributions from Critical Legal Studies guru and Harvard Professor of Law Duncan M. Kennedy '64, and smaller amounts from Nobel Laureates Professor of Cardiology Bernard Lown and Higgins Professor of Biology Emeritus George Wald '44.

Galvin called Kennedy's approach to defense budget cuts "Childish at best" in a recent interview, and said he supported a tax reform that would institute a minimum corporate tax and increase revenues without an across-the-board increase.

Roosevelt considers himself "in the center of the field" politically and supports a nuclear freeze and increased government student aid funds. He also believes U.S. colleges and universities should divest from South African-related corporations. He received a $500 contribution from Harvard Vice President and General Counsel Daniel Steiner '54, who does not.

Johnston's "Stretch-A-Buck" campaign, which she illustrates with rubber dollar bills, stresses social services, the nuclear freeze, and deficit reduction through defense budget cuts.

Abt, a Republican, is president and founder of the Abt Associates research group and supports defense budget cuts through more efficient new procedures rather than cutting programs.

Staunch Republican and anti-abortionist Mildred F. Jefferson said she supported a strong defense.

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