Yesterday Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA-4), currently serving his 16th two-year term in the House, announced he will not seek re-election in 2012. Previously, he had said he would run again but the Massachusetts redistricting plan gave him a much different seat, one that includes a substantial amount of new territory. The new 4th is more Republican, but nowhere close to the level of making Rep. Frank vulnerable to defeat. The loss of the more liberal towns of Fall River and New Bedford, however, which were replaced with more culturally conservative regions, does change the ideological prism of the district.
Without Mr. Frank in the 2012 picture, several Democrat office holders already are beginning to make moves to enter the race. Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter announced his congressional candidacy yesterday on the heels of the Frank retirement statement. Two former US Senate candidates, Newton Mayor Setti Warren and wealthy businessman Alan Khazei, both of whom dropped their bids earlier this year in favor of Obama Administration consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren, are also potential candidates. Three women, Democrat state and local officials, likewise are being mentioned: state Sen. Cynthia Creem, and Brookline Selectwomen Jesse Mermell and Deborah Goldberg.
On the Republican side, 2010 nominee Sean Bielat, who held Frank to a 53-43 percent victory in the current district, had previously announced his candidacy as did Elizabeth Childs, a former state Mental Health Commissioner. The Democrats will likely hold the seat, but this campaign becomes more interesting in its new status as an open seat contest.