Bradley Goes National With His Fund-Raising Campaign
The towering statue of Benjamin Franklin was surrounded by modern-day political activists who are a candidate’s dream: young, affluent professionals who have disposable income to donate.
Except that here at the Franklin Institute, the activists were paying $100 each at a fund-raiser not for the political future of Philadelphia Mayor Wilson Goode, but for the California gubernatorial hopes of Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.
Two fund-raisers Tuesday night here, one for $500 per person and another for $100 per person, were the first in a series of events planned in 19 cities across the country aimed at taking in $1.5 million for the Bradley campaign.
The cash drive is a major part of Democrat Bradley’s uphill battle to narrow the gap in funds between him and his rival, Republican Gov. George Deukmejian. The governor, with $7 million, currently holds a commanding advantage over Bradley, with $1 million, in campaign contributions.
Fund-raising far from home by gubernatorial and congressional candidates is not unusual; Bradley himself did it in 1982. But this time, Bradley is taking to the road to court a certain segment of financial supporters: middle-class professional blacks, who are donating money in greater numbers to Bradley and other politicians.
Here and in Chicago, young black professionals raised tens of thousands of dollars for the 1983 campaigns of Goode and Chicago Mayor Harold Washington.
“The black community is beginning to do the same thing everybody else has been doing,” said Rep. William H. Gray III (D-Pa.), a member of the House Budget Committee. Gray, who arrived at one of Bradley’s fund-raisers here with a $1,000 check, noted that Deukmejian has been successful in attracting contributions from the relatively small but active Armenian community.
Now, he said, “it’s not just blacks raising money for black candidates, but blacks developing the know-how and the contacts for fund-raising bases, black and white, throughout the country.”
As the number of black mayors has increased and more effort has been devoted to opening local government contracts to minority- and female-owned businesses, black business owners say they are more actively involved in giving money to candidates who they believe will help their businesses thrive.
David W. Huggins, president of a Pennsylvania-based company, was one of about 30 who contributed $500 to attend the private Bradley reception here. Why?
“From what I hear, he’s the best man for the job. And of course, a lot of us would be proud to see the first black governor,” Huggins said. Also, Huggins’ company has designed a computer system that he wants to market to airports--and Los Angeles International Airport is high on his list, he added.
The man behind Bradley’s national fund-raising drive is investment banker Travers Bell Jr. He is chairman of Daniels & Bell, the only black-owned firm that is a member of the New York Stock Exchange. Bell also has raised money for Georgia state Sen. Julian Bond and Virginia Lt. Gov. Doug Wilder, who recently became the first black to be elected to a major state office in the South since Reconstruction.
Bell, whose firm is helping to market bonds financing Los Angeles’ $235-million trash-recycling project, brings to the Bradley campaign connections not only to the black financial community but to executive suites all along Wall Street.
Last year he started the New York Bradley Roundtable, a group representing some of the top financial houses. Each member has paid $10,000 to be a part of the group that meets occasionally with Bradley, Bell said. This group raised more than $100,000 at a fund-raiser in November.
Next on the agenda is a Bradley trip to Atlanta this month, Bell said, followed by trips to Washington, Chicago, Detroit, Richmond, Va., Baltimore, New Orleans, New York, Pittsburgh, Pa., Boston, Houston, Hartford, Conn., Milwaukee, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Essex County, N.J.
Hosted by Goode
At both receptions here, Bradley’s host was Goode, who called him “my role model.” Bradley in his speech talked about “breaking barriers” to become the nation’s first black to be elected governor. “It can be done,” he said.
While Bradley was warmly received here, several of the attorneys and bankers said they attended the fund-raisers more for the value of making contacts and exchanging business cards than to see the California candidate.
But motives matter not “as long as the checks come in,” said one East Coast Bradley supporter.
Bradley is also tapping a more traditional source of funds in the black community--the church. A California statewide clergy group has formed to “get the word out to the congregations and generate enthusiasm to get to the polls,” said Rev. Thomas Kilgore, a longtime Bradley supporter.
Bradley, who was criticized during his 1982 campaign for taking black votes for granted, met in February with a small group of influential ministers in Oakland to talk about forming such a support group.
The Oakland gathering was followed by a small meeting in Los Angeles, which led to a major meeting of 250 ministers with Bradley two weeks ago at a South-Central Los Angeles church, Kilgore said.
The goal of the clergy group is to raise at least $100,000 “but I think we can raise a lot more,” Kilgore said. The early Bradley organization effort to involve the black clergy with his campaign, Kilgore said, “is a lot different from last time.”