Roanoke Times
                 Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: THURSDAY, August 17, 1995                   TAG: 9508170036
DATELINE: NEWARK, N. J.                                 LENGTH: Long


THE NEW JERSEY senator is the sixth Democrat to call it quits before the 1996 election. Two more senators remain undecided.

Calling the nation's political system ``broken,'' Sen. Bill Bradley announced Wednesday he will not run for a fourth term next year, the sixth Democrat retiring from the Senate.

Bradley said he will not leave public life and will continue to speak on public issues, but was not specific about his plans.

``We live in a time when, on a basic level, politics is broken,'' Bradley said. ``In growing numbers people have lost faith in the political process and don't see how it can help their threatened economic circumstances.''

Surrounded by his family as he made the announcement to friends, supporters and reporters, Bradley, 52, thanked voters who sent him to the Senate for three terms but said the time had come to leave.

``It's possible to lead from the Senate and to make a difference in peoples' lives. I've tried to do that. But I've concluded that the U.S. Senate is not the only place to do either of those two things,'' Bradley said.

The Democrat made clear that he was not happy with the direction of either party on the national scene.

``The Republicans are infatuated with the magic of the private sector and reflexively criticize government as the enemy of freedom, and the Democrats distrust the market, preach government as the answer to our problems, and prefer the bureaucrats they know to the consumer they can't control,'' Bradley said.

Earlier this year, Bradley had left open the door to challenging President Clinton in next year's primaries, and he criticized the president repeatedly on issues from Soviet policy to the budget. But a source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday that Bradley would not run against Clinton. Bradley did not mention the presidential race in his remarks.

Bradley had been mentioned as a presidential contender the last two elections.

His sudden retirement further fades Democratic hopes of regaining the Senate in 1996.

Five Democrats already have said they are retiring: Paul Simon of Illinois, David Pryor of Arkansas, Bennett Johnston of Louisiana, James Exon of Nebraska and Howell Heflin of Alabama.

Claiborne Pell, D-R.I., has not made an announcement but is not expected to seek re-election. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., has not made a decision.

Democrats in the Senate already are down 54-46, after losing two senators in post-election party switches - Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado and Richard Shelby of Alabama.

Bradley, 52, had left open the door earlier this year to challenging Clinton and criticized the president repeatedly on issues from Soviet policy to the budget. But the source said today that Bradley would not run against Clinton.

Bradley, elected in 1978 after a pro basketball career with the New York Knicks, faced easy re-election in 1984 over Mary Mochary. But he stumbled in 1990 against Christie Whitman after she made issues of his out-of-state fund-raising and refusal to comment on then-Gov. Jim Florio's tax increases.

His fund-raising efforts for what was expected to be a tough challenge next year were lagging, and Republicans already had targeted him as vulnerable.

Rep. Dick Zimmer, a three-term Republican from central New Jersey, has emerged as the leading GOP contender. He has more than $1.1 million in the bank as of June 30, nearly doubling the $600,000 that Bradley had available.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has pledged the maximum $710,000 permitted by federal election law to the race.

Zimmer's only announced primary opponent so far is Passaic County Freeholder Richard DuHaime, but today Rep. Marge Roukema, an eight-term congresswoman from northern New Jersey, said today Bradley's withdrawal ``intensifies'' her interest in the GOP primary.

Democrats who might now consider a run include Rep. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., who has his own House fund-raising chest of more than $1 million. Rep. Robert Menendez, who has $165,000 available, also said today he is considering a run.

Bradley's work on the 1986 Tax Reform Act and expertise in Soviet affairs made him a seeming natural at one time for the White House among supporters as a ``thinking man's moderate'' who could attract voters from both parties. He also offered national name recognition and fund-raising appeal.

But the luster faded after he narrowly beat Whitman in 1990 despite raising more than $12 million to her $1 million.

Before his political life, Bradley became nationally known as a top basketball scorer with the Princeton University Tigers. Bypassing an immediate chance at a pro career, Bradley spent two years as Rhodes Scholar before joining the New York Knicks in 1967.

Bradley's fame and reputation made him the object of pursuit from both political parties. As a Democrat who came from wealth and had wealthy friends in the sports and entertainment worlds, he won the Senate race his first time out in 1978 with 55 percent over Republican Jeffrey Bell.

He won re-election in 1984 over Mochary with 64 percent of the vote.


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