Barney Frank Not Running For Re-Election

Barney Frank, who has represented Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District since he was elected in 1980, will announce later today that he will not be seeking re-election in 2012:

US Representative Barney Frank, the state’s highest-profile congressman and one of the nation’s leading liberal voices after being among its first openly gay elected officials, planned to announce today that he will not reelection next year.

A top adviser told the Globe that the new district in which Frank would have had to run next year was a major factor in his decision. While it retained his Newton stronghold, it was revised to encompass more conservative towns like Walpole while losing New Bedford, a blue-collar city where the Democrat had invested a lot of time and become a leading figure in the region’s fisheries debate.

Frank’s campaign manager last year said his withering 2010 re-election effort spurred the congressman to think seriously about retirement, even saying a few days after the election that it would be his last one.

Frank wanted to announce that this would be his final term immediately afterward, but decided against it, said Kevin Sowyrda, the campaign manager.

“We looked him right in the face and said, ‘You can’t resign,” Sowyrda said. “In fairness to Barney, he was emotional about it. He said, ‘I know I’ve got to stay.'”

“I believe that Barney felt an obligation to come through for the (supporters) people that came through for him,” said Sowyrda.

But retirement has been on his mind ever since.

The congressman scheduled a 1 p.m. press conference at Newton City Hall “to formally announce and answer questions about his decision not to run for re-election in 2012,” according to a statement.

Notwithstanding the districting changes cited in the article, I think it’s safe to say that Frank will likely be replaced by another Democrat. Frank has always been an outspoken Member of Congress on a wide variety of issue, and also a lightning rod for conservative criticism. In many cases, it was clear that the criticism has been based as much on Frank’s sexuality as on his policies or record, Rush Limbaugh’s stereotypically insulting parodies of Frank come to mind in that regard. Frank’s tenure was not without controversy, of course, including a scandal in the early years of his time in Congress involving a male prostitute name Steve Gobie as well as alleged ties between his current partner and Fannie Mae during the time that Frank was Chairman of the House Banking Committee. Frank moved beyond that, and the voters in his district seemed to as well, but conservatives never really have. In more recent years, Frank played a central role in the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and formed an unlikely alliance with Ron Paul on issues related to regulation and oversight of the Federal Reserve Board and Online Gambling.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    The ambient IQ of Congress will drop a few points when Frank goes. Not to mention his immense entertainment value.

  2. Alex says:

    Barney Frank also co-authored a marijuana legalization bill with Ron Paul earlier this year. He’s gotten perfect scores from NORML for years now, a fact that most libertarians seem to have overlooked.

  3. bandit says:

    Wow talk about going in the tank for a career corruptocrat. The scandal ivolving a male prostitute was a prostitution ring run out of his home which he claimed to ‘have no knowledge of’ which he also later claimed about having marijuana plants in his home. And “alleged ties between his current partner and Fannie Mae during the time that Frank was Chairman of the House Banking Committee.” was based on his testimony that Fannie was in great shape while his former BF was an executive there. Funny you forgot to mention his recommendation that OneUnitedBank money laundering front receive 12 million in bailout.

    Way to mail it in.