Creating Popularity Out of Restraint

After eight years as mayor of Los Angeles, Thomas Bradley, 63, remains a diffident and elusive figure. "He doesn't tell anyone his private thoughts, not even me," his wife Ethel once said. Nor is he given to fiery outbursts, one-liners or gabbing with reporters. Says he: "I prefer to work quietly behind the scenes rather than get into a big public debate that accomplishes nothing." Politically he describes himself as "fiscally conservative and liberal on other issues. You cannot pin me down."

That proved a problem for Republican Sam Yorty, who was swamped by Bradley in last April's mayoral race. "He doesn't...

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