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Populist Bachrach Appeals To Liberals

Gov. Hopeful Differs From Centrist Foes

By Leondra R. Kruger

In his race against look-alike Harvard graduates with similar backgrounds and beliefs, gubernatorial candidate George Bachrach stands alone.

The former state senator from Watertown proclaims himself "an unabashed liberal" who has resisted the centrist politics of his Democratic opponents, State Sen. Michael J. Barrett '70 (D-Cambridge) and State Rep. Mark Roosevelt '78 (D-Beacon Hill).

"I don't think the Democratic party can win by being more like the Republican party," Bachrach says. "It troubles me when we try."

Thus, the Boston lawyer and former political commentator for WCVB-TV and WBUR-FM differs with his opponents on some of the hottest issues in this year's campaign, ranging from the economy to education reform.

Bachrach, 42, criticizes both Roosevelt and Barrett for their political platforms, which he says are notably similar to those of Republican Gov. William F. Weld '66.

Bachrach says he's a leftist who's not afraid to challenge the moderate Republican incumbent with his liberal platform--which he attributes to his background.

Born in Westchester County, N.Y. to Jewish refugees who escaped Europe during World War II, Bachrach says his heritage inspired him "to work for some form of economic and social justice" in his community.

"I don't think you can come from that background and not have a sense of outrage," says Bachrach, who lost two grandparents in the Holocaust. That's why it troubles me when I see anyoneleft behind."

Disappointed With Senate

This year's gubernatorial race is not the firsttime Bachrach has contended against candidateswith famous last names.

In 1986, Bachrach lost to Joseph P. kennedy IIin a race for the Eighth Congressional Districtseat in the U.S. House. Bachrach finished secondout of 12 candidates.

Following his 1980 election as the firstIndependent candidate in the State Senate,Bachrach says he was disappointed with the waystate politics were run.

He sought to change what he considered "theleast democratic" institution in the state bychallenging incumbent William M. Bulger (D-Boston)for the Senate presidency in 1984.

Having failed in his bid for the Senatepresidency, Bachrach has now returned to theDemocratic party and is poised to take on his twomiddle-of-the-road challengers in the Septemberprimary.

On the Issue of Crime

Like the other candidates, Bachrach cites crimeas one of the most important issues in thecampaign, but his solutions differ from thoseoffered by Barrett and Roosevelt.

Most notably, Bachrach does not support the"three strikes and you're out" proposal, whichwould sentence violent criminals to life in prisonafter their third offense. The plan is supportedby Weld, Barrett and Roosevelt, as well as bypresident Clinton.

"`Three strikes you're out' is a terrificbumper sticker but terrible public policy,"Bachrach says.

He says the proposal is not tough enough onfirst or second time offenders.

"The plan means that it takes three muggings orthree rapes before you get serious," Bachrachsays. "It screams out for a plan to reduceviolence."

Bachrach says he prefers a "two strikes andyou're out" plan, but he adds he would not createmandatory life sentencing.

Massachusetts is wasting money paying forcriminals too old to commit crimes, Bachrach says.

"We are paying $50,000 a year to housetoothless prisoners," he says.

Bachrach says it is more important to focus onways of deterring crime. He supports increasingdrug and alcohol abuse programs and expandingfunding for the Department of Youth Services.

And, unlike Roosevelt and Weld, Bachrach doesnot support the reinstitution of the death penaltyin Massachusetts, where capital punishment has notbeen used since 1947.

"Death penalty has nothing to do with thesystem of justice," Bachrach says. "The governmentcan't decide what potholes to fix, much less whoto execute."

He adds, "The death penalty is not a deterrent,but an act of vengeance."

Different Views on Education

Education reform is the banner issue forBachrach's opponents. Both Barrett and Roosevelthave been instrumental in passing legislation toensure the quality of Boston schools.

But again, Bachrach's views differ sharply fromthose of his contenders.

Though Bachrach says he is committed toimproving schools, he does not see increasedfunding as the solution to what ails the state'spublic education system.

"Education reform is not really a matter ofdollars and cents," he says. "We spend per capitamore on Boston students than on any other town inthe Commonwealth."

Nor does Bachrach advocate school choice, aproposal already endorsed by Barrett, Rooseveltand Weld that would allow parents to choose whatschool their children can attend.

Because many children have parents who will nottake care in choosing their schools, Bachrachsays, school choice will particularly hurtchildren in unstable families or who live in areaswith schools of poorer quality.

"School choice is the death knell for urbaneducation in America," he says. "School choice isnot good public policy."

Bachrach supports increasing innovation in theeducation system. He says he favors charterschools which would "offer creative ideas...andsensitivity to different issues" facing differentschools.

Welfare Reform

Bachrach also takes a different stance onwelfare reform. He condemns Roosevelt and Weld fortheir proposals which would reduce welfarebenefits for mothers who have children while theyare unemployed.

"[The policies of Roosevelt and Weld] areultimately victimizing the child for the sins ofthe mother," Bachrach says.

Bachrach says he would create a "job bank" towhich companies could turn as they enteredbusiness.

"Just as companies go to the bank to getcapital, we can be their capital," he says.

Bachrach says he also plans to strengthen daycare and job training programs.

The candidate faults the Weld government forits short-sighted policies concerning welfarereform and other social issues.

"We do everything halfway...There may bestart-up costs, but in the final analysis, therewill be a reduction of costs later on," Bachrachsays. "It costs less to provide subsidized[employment] slots than to provide welfare."

Weld Scandal

In recent weeks, Bachrach's campaign has beendogged with allegations that he "encouraged" and"facilitated" contributions from members of hislaw firm to the Weld campaign committee in 1991,according to reports in the Boston Globe.

Bachrach even wrote a $100 check to thecampaign of Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci in order tohelp him repay his debt.

But Bachrach vehemently denies that he was anactive fund-raiser for the Weld campaign, sayingthat he encouraged the lawyers in his firm tocontribute to any campaign.

"I have never been a part of the Weldfund-raising machine," bachrach says. "The ideathat I've raised thousands of dollars for Weld isa figment of someone's imagination."

But he admits: "If I had been planning to runfor governor since third grade, I probablywouldn't have [written the check]."

Standing Alone

Bachrach says that in a race where his two mainDemocratic opponents have remarkably similarplatforms, he can rely on the appeal of a liberalalternative.

"I don't give a damn if it's fashionable orunfashionable to care about these issues," hesays. "A candidate has to be willing to stake outterritory, to speak clearly and bluntly. That'scalled leadership."

But Bachrach says he recognizes thatMassachusetts may not be ready for many of hisleftist stances, especially considering thepopularity of moderates such as Weld.

"This is a high-risk campaign," Bachrach says."Either I'll rise, or I'll sink like a stone."Courtesy Bachrach campaignA LIBERAL AMONG MODERATES: Former state Sen.GEORGE BACHRACH (D-Watertown).

Disappointed With Senate

This year's gubernatorial race is not the firsttime Bachrach has contended against candidateswith famous last names.

In 1986, Bachrach lost to Joseph P. kennedy IIin a race for the Eighth Congressional Districtseat in the U.S. House. Bachrach finished secondout of 12 candidates.

Following his 1980 election as the firstIndependent candidate in the State Senate,Bachrach says he was disappointed with the waystate politics were run.

He sought to change what he considered "theleast democratic" institution in the state bychallenging incumbent William M. Bulger (D-Boston)for the Senate presidency in 1984.

Having failed in his bid for the Senatepresidency, Bachrach has now returned to theDemocratic party and is poised to take on his twomiddle-of-the-road challengers in the Septemberprimary.

On the Issue of Crime

Like the other candidates, Bachrach cites crimeas one of the most important issues in thecampaign, but his solutions differ from thoseoffered by Barrett and Roosevelt.

Most notably, Bachrach does not support the"three strikes and you're out" proposal, whichwould sentence violent criminals to life in prisonafter their third offense. The plan is supportedby Weld, Barrett and Roosevelt, as well as bypresident Clinton.

"`Three strikes you're out' is a terrificbumper sticker but terrible public policy,"Bachrach says.

He says the proposal is not tough enough onfirst or second time offenders.

"The plan means that it takes three muggings orthree rapes before you get serious," Bachrachsays. "It screams out for a plan to reduceviolence."

Bachrach says he prefers a "two strikes andyou're out" plan, but he adds he would not createmandatory life sentencing.

Massachusetts is wasting money paying forcriminals too old to commit crimes, Bachrach says.

"We are paying $50,000 a year to housetoothless prisoners," he says.

Bachrach says it is more important to focus onways of deterring crime. He supports increasingdrug and alcohol abuse programs and expandingfunding for the Department of Youth Services.

And, unlike Roosevelt and Weld, Bachrach doesnot support the reinstitution of the death penaltyin Massachusetts, where capital punishment has notbeen used since 1947.

"Death penalty has nothing to do with thesystem of justice," Bachrach says. "The governmentcan't decide what potholes to fix, much less whoto execute."

He adds, "The death penalty is not a deterrent,but an act of vengeance."

Different Views on Education

Education reform is the banner issue forBachrach's opponents. Both Barrett and Roosevelthave been instrumental in passing legislation toensure the quality of Boston schools.

But again, Bachrach's views differ sharply fromthose of his contenders.

Though Bachrach says he is committed toimproving schools, he does not see increasedfunding as the solution to what ails the state'spublic education system.

"Education reform is not really a matter ofdollars and cents," he says. "We spend per capitamore on Boston students than on any other town inthe Commonwealth."

Nor does Bachrach advocate school choice, aproposal already endorsed by Barrett, Rooseveltand Weld that would allow parents to choose whatschool their children can attend.

Because many children have parents who will nottake care in choosing their schools, Bachrachsays, school choice will particularly hurtchildren in unstable families or who live in areaswith schools of poorer quality.

"School choice is the death knell for urbaneducation in America," he says. "School choice isnot good public policy."

Bachrach supports increasing innovation in theeducation system. He says he favors charterschools which would "offer creative ideas...andsensitivity to different issues" facing differentschools.

Welfare Reform

Bachrach also takes a different stance onwelfare reform. He condemns Roosevelt and Weld fortheir proposals which would reduce welfarebenefits for mothers who have children while theyare unemployed.

"[The policies of Roosevelt and Weld] areultimately victimizing the child for the sins ofthe mother," Bachrach says.

Bachrach says he would create a "job bank" towhich companies could turn as they enteredbusiness.

"Just as companies go to the bank to getcapital, we can be their capital," he says.

Bachrach says he also plans to strengthen daycare and job training programs.

The candidate faults the Weld government forits short-sighted policies concerning welfarereform and other social issues.

"We do everything halfway...There may bestart-up costs, but in the final analysis, therewill be a reduction of costs later on," Bachrachsays. "It costs less to provide subsidized[employment] slots than to provide welfare."

Weld Scandal

In recent weeks, Bachrach's campaign has beendogged with allegations that he "encouraged" and"facilitated" contributions from members of hislaw firm to the Weld campaign committee in 1991,according to reports in the Boston Globe.

Bachrach even wrote a $100 check to thecampaign of Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci in order tohelp him repay his debt.

But Bachrach vehemently denies that he was anactive fund-raiser for the Weld campaign, sayingthat he encouraged the lawyers in his firm tocontribute to any campaign.

"I have never been a part of the Weldfund-raising machine," bachrach says. "The ideathat I've raised thousands of dollars for Weld isa figment of someone's imagination."

But he admits: "If I had been planning to runfor governor since third grade, I probablywouldn't have [written the check]."

Standing Alone

Bachrach says that in a race where his two mainDemocratic opponents have remarkably similarplatforms, he can rely on the appeal of a liberalalternative.

"I don't give a damn if it's fashionable orunfashionable to care about these issues," hesays. "A candidate has to be willing to stake outterritory, to speak clearly and bluntly. That'scalled leadership."

But Bachrach says he recognizes thatMassachusetts may not be ready for many of hisleftist stances, especially considering thepopularity of moderates such as Weld.

"This is a high-risk campaign," Bachrach says."Either I'll rise, or I'll sink like a stone."Courtesy Bachrach campaignA LIBERAL AMONG MODERATES: Former state Sen.GEORGE BACHRACH (D-Watertown).

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