More MS news articles for Nov 2001

Senate Contender: Short on Walking, Long on Running

Sunday, November 4, 2001; Page A02

Television's "The West Wing" has built its new season around a fictional president's failure to disclose his multiple sclerosis, and the political firestorm it triggers. In Oregon, a real contender for the U.S. Senate took a different tack years ago, and now he seldom needs to remind voters why he can't stand or walk for long periods.

Bill Bradbury, a Democrat and Oregon's secretary of state, told voters in the 1980s that he has MS, which causes him to limp and reduces his stamina. The topic rarely comes up now, aides say, even though Bradbury is engaged in one of the nation's most-watched 2002 Senate races. He is the most prominent Democrat, so far at least, to say he will challenge Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), who wants a second term.

Bradbury, then a state legislator, decided to divulge his MS at a Labor Day picnic years ago, the Associated Press reported. He recalls being in line for beer when someone announced on a loudspeaker that he would address the crowd. "I had to walk a whole football field length to get to the stage, and I was kind of weaving a little bit," Bradbury told the AP. "I decided it was probably better to talk about the disease I had than to have everyone think I was drunk."

As for the Senate campaign, he said, "I don't want to walk in a parade; I want to ride in one. And I can't schmooze really effectively at a cocktail party because I just can't stand up for that long. So rather than moving through a crowd, I sit in a chair and people come up to me."

Bradbury's hopes of winning the Democratic nomination improved last week when a potential rival -- Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) -- said he does not "have time for the distraction" of a Senate race and will run for reelection to the House.

Staff writer Lois Romano contributed to this report.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company