4th congressional district
By Ted Nesi
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WPRI) – Hours before Joe Kennedy III’s swearing-in last week, his brand-new congressional office looked like a college dorm room on freshman move-in day.
• Related: Joe Kennedy III met his wife in Warren’s Harvard Law class (Jan. 3)
Joe Kennedy III will be in Attleboro on Saturday to raise money for his congressional campaign.
Former State Rep. Max Volterra and his wife, Marion, will host the “grassroots fundraiser” at their home in the city on Saturday from 2 to 3:30 p.m. The suggested contribution is $25. The event will be held on the last day of the fundraising quarter, which will offer the first indication of Kennedy’s ability to raise money.
Attleboro is one of the largest cities in Massachusetts’ overhauled 4th Congressional District, the pre-redistricting version of which is now represented by Congressman Barney Frank. Kennedy held one of his campaign kickoff events in Attleboro on Feb. 16 and has returned to the area for other events since then.
Republicans Sean Bielat, who made an unsuccessful bid to unseat Frank in 2010, and Elizabeth Childs are both seeking their party’s nominations in the 4th District, as are Democrats Herb Robinson and Jules Levine. So far, though, this latest Kennedy campaign is looking like a juggernaut.
• Related: Kennedy III kickoff shows power of dynasty, Elizabeth Warren (Feb. 16)
(photo: Kennedy campaign)
ATTLEBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — Never underestimate the power of dynasty.
If you squint, the political leadership in this corner of Southern New England could be straight out of 1962. A governor named Chafee is running Rhode Island, while a Kennedy barely past his 30th birthday is making a bid for Congress many view as a coronation.
But Joe Kennedy III’s arrival in Attleboro on Thursday for a lunchtime campaign kickoff offered clear evidence that, gripes aside, his family name is still far more of an asset than a liability here in the Bay State – no surprise considering an early poll gave the newcomer a 32-point lead over his would-be Republican opponent.
Kennedy’s response to those critics will sound familiar to anyone who covered Patrick Kennedy in 1994 or, for that matter, Ted Kennedy in 1962. “It’s my name on the ballot,” he told reporters. “I’m extremely proud of my family’s service here and across the country.” Translation: I’m my own man – oh, and I’m a Kennedy.
• New: Kennedy name still has clout (Feb. 16)
Joe Kennedy III will kick off his campaign for Massachusetts’ newly redrawn 4th Congressional District seat on Thursday with a few local stops.
Kennedy’s daylong campaign kickoff will take him to five key communities in the 4th District, including stops at Morin’s restaurant in Attleboro at noon and New Weir Pizza in Taunton at 5 p.m., his exploratory committee said. He’ll also make appearances in Newton, Milford and Westport.
“I’ve spoken to people from across the 4th Congressional District - from Newton to Fall River - who believe that Washington no longer works for them,” Kennedy said in a statement. “I will work hard to earn every vote and if elected bring that fight for fairness to the US Congress.”
Kennedy, 30, is the son of former Congressman Joe Kennedy and grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy. He jumped into the race after Congressman Barney Frank decided to retire rather than learn the ins and outs of an overhauled constituency.
The Boston Globe called Kennedy’s announcement “perhaps the least surprising in recent Massachusetts political history.” A poll this month gave him a whopping 32-point lead over his Republican opponent, Sean Bielat, whom Frank defeated 54%-43% in 2010. The survey showed Kennedy at 60% and Bielat at 28%.
• Related: New-look 4th District likely pushed Barney Frank to retire (Nov. 28)
(photo: Kennedy campaign)
Congressman David Cicilline is likely to hold onto his seat in November but faces more risk of losing than his colleague Jim Langevin, according to new House race rankings released Thursday by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
Cicilline’s 1st Congressional District is among 94 U.S. House seats out of 435 rated as potentially competitive for the opposition party by the organization, whose director is the prominent political prognosticator Larry Sabato.
Cicilline’s seat is ranked as “likely Democratic,” which “effectively means that we are watching this race,” Kyle Kondik’s the center’s House editor, wrote in an analysis. Cicilline is being challenged by Republican Brendan Doherty, former superintendent of the state police, and may face a primary from businessman Anthony Gemma.
Langevin’s 2nd District is rated as “safe Democratic,” one of 341 seats where Republicans (189) or Democrats (152) face no risk of losing. In Massachusetts, the new 4th District seat being vacated by Barney Frank and sought by Joe Kennedy III is also rated “safe Democratic,” as is Congressman William Keating’s 9th District seat.
For Democrats to win 25 House seats and retake the House, “President Obama will need to win next year, and that probably won’t be enough,” Kondik wrote. ”What Democrats really need is a poisonous, damaged Republican nominee who not only loses to Obama but causes harm down the ticket.”
• Related: Forecast: Obama likely to win again in Rhode Island, Mass. (April 22)
My former PBN colleague Galen Moore noted last month that Curt Schilling – the former Sox star who is now Rhode Island’s most famous businessman as 38 Studios’ founder – could run for retiring Congressman Barney Frank’s seat because the new 4th District includes the Republican pitcher’s hometown of Medfield.
It would have been a fun campaign, but Schilling has now told the Boston Herald he doesn’t have time for a congressional bid because of 38 Studios and family responsibilities.
“If it was any other point in time, I would do it in a heartbeat,” he told the paper’s Inside Track columnists. “But it’s an elected position — it’s 365 days a year, nights, weekends. I can’t do it right now.”
By Tim White
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation say they were surprised to hear Mass. Congressman Barney Frank is not going to seek reelection and praised his three decades in Washington.
“Barney Frank has been one of the most extraordinary members of Congress in my experience,” U.S Sen. Jack Reed said. “There is a loss when you see someone with that much talent that is going to be leaving the House.”
Reed – who is a member of the Senate Banking Committee – said a big part of Frank’s legacy will be the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which overhauled the country’s banking regulations in the wake of the economic collapse.
Congressmen James Langevin and David Cicilline said they think the divisiveness in Washington may have played a role in Frank’s decision.
As WPRI 12 apparently reported first on Twitter, longtime Congressman Barney Frank will retire next year rather than run again. Part of Frank’s calculus may be the new boundaries of his 4th Congressional District drawn by Massachusetts’ redistricting panel.
The biggest change for Frank’s 4th District is the loss of New Bedford, a key Democratic stronghold, and the addition of a bunch of conservative-leaning communities in my old stomping grounds along the Rhode Island border, including Attleboro, North Attleboro, Plainville, and U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s hometown of Wrentham. That was going to be tough territory for Frank.
Among the Republicans who’ll be eyeing the now open 4th District seat are State Rep. Dan Winslow, who is close to Brown and served in the Romney administration, and Brookline’s Sean Bielat, who gave Frank a stronger-than-expected challenge in 2010. Elizabeth Childs, another Brookline resident and former Romney aide, has already thrown her hat into the ring. It will be interesting to see how Cook and Rothenberg rate the open seat.
Between the 4th District, the Brown-Warren U.S. Senate race and the Cicilline-Doherty-Loughlin 1st District fight here in Rhode Island, those of us who live along the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border can expect to see a lot of campaign commercials over the next year.
Update: In his formal statement this afternoon, Frank explicitly cited the new district as one of his reasons for retiring:
The newly configured [4th District] contains approximately 325,000 new constituents, many of them in a region of the state that is wholly new to me as a Member of Congress. A significant number of others are in the area along our east-west border with Rhode Island which I have not represented for 20 years. This means that running for reelection will require – appropriately in our democracy – a significant commitment of my time and energy, introducing myself to hundreds of thousands of new constituents, learning about the regional and local issues of concern to them and, not least importantly, raising an additional $1.5 to $2 million.
The Cook Political Report, the influential forecasting firm in Washington, D.C., released new ratings on competitive open U.S. House seats Thursday – and for the second time this month, Cook has upgraded Republican Sean Bielat’s chances of defeating Democrat Barney Frank in his bid for a 16th term representing Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District in Congress.
That means the Frank-Bielat contest is among those “considered competitive races but [where] one party has an advantage,” whereas before Wasserman just thought it could become competitive but hadn’t yet.
In short, Bielat has turned what could have been another waltz to re-election for Frank into a truly competitive race. Our WPRI 12 poll earlier this month showed Frank at 49% and Bielat at 37%, with 12% of voters still undecided.
Bielat was actually just here in our studios taping a half-hour appearance on “Newsmakers” that will air this weekend. The program was supposed to be a debate between Bielat and Frank, but the Democrat backed out. The interview with Bielat will be shown Saturday night in prime time.
I’ve asked the folks at Cook for a copy of Wasserman’s analysis on the Frank-Bielat race, and I’ll update this once I receive it.
Update: Taking a closer look at Cook’s new chart of competitive House races, it’s worth noting that Frank’s seat is the most heavily Democratic one the party could lose next Tuesday. Its Partisan Voting Index, or PVI – which measures how strongly a district leans toward one party – is “D+14,” meaning Democrats usually do 14 points better there than they do nationwide. Patrick Kennedy’s seat is next, with a “D+13″ PVI.
I could do a whole day’s worth of posts about why Southeastern New England has suddenly become an unexpected battleground for Democrats, but for now I’ll just point out that the area’s unemployment problem is worse than anywhere else in New England outside of Maine. That can’t help incumbents.
Update #2: Here’s Cook editor David Wasserman’s full write-up on why he upgraded Bielat’s chances against Frank:
Very few 30-year incumbents release a poll one day showing them leading 56% to 37%, then take $200,000 out of their retirement plan to fund their race. Then again, very few incumbents are Barney Frank. Multiple media polls taken since then have shown the Financial Services chairman under 50%, including a Boston Globe survey showing Frank leading Marine Corps Reservist Sean Bielat 46% to 33%, with a high number of undecided independents. That makes some sense after Frank has endured a rough spate of press, including his camera-wielding partner’s awkward confrontation of Bielat.
Bielat has raised an astounding $600,000 in the first two weeks of October (more than his campaign had raised the whole year prior). Obviously the cash is mostly flooding in from outside the district, but it means Bielat has the resources to play David versus Frank’s Goliath on the airwaves in the final week. One ad set to steel drums intones, “While you were worried about your job or mortgage, Barney Frank was on his way to the islands on a private jet owned by a Wall Street fat cat who got millions in bailouts.” This is an extremely Democratic district, and Frank is still the favorite, but it’s a race.
As always, thank you to Cook for sharing it with me.
Update #3: WRNI’s Ian Donnis notes an interesting piece by Republican strategist Todd Domke, who compares Bielat’s candidacy this year to Rhode Island Republican Ronald Machtley’s successful 1988 campaign against veteran Democratic Congressman Fernand St. Germain. (Machtley, who was succeeded by Patrick Kennedy in 1995, is now president of Bryant University.)
With three weeks to go before the general election, Democrat David Cicilline had nearly twice as much money left as his Republican opponent John Loughlin in the race to succeed to succeed U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, according to campaign finance reports filed yesterday.
Cicilline’s campaign had $205,976 on hand as of Oct 13, while Loughlin’s had $114,005, Federal Election Commission records show. That’s the last snapshot of the two candidates’ war chests we’re going to get before the Nov. 2 election.
In the 2nd District, incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin had $429,763 on Oct. 13 – a whopping 44 times as much as his Republican opponent Mark Zaccaria, who had just $9,573.
As I reported yesterday, veteran U.S. Rep. Barney Frank – who our exclusive new poll shows is facing a stiff challenge this year – saw his cash on hand fall to $649,560 on Oct. 13. His Republican challenger Sean Bielat wasn’t too far behind, with $462,914 on hand after he raised a whopping $653,705 in the first two weeks of October alone. Frank says he’ll lend his campaign $200,000 to stay competitive between now and Nov. 2.
Republican Sean Bielat is giving 15-term U.S. Rep. Barney Frank his most competitive reelection race in years, according to our new WPRI 12 poll being released on air right now. The survey of 400 likely voters in Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District was conducted Oct. 14 to 17 by Fleming & Associates. The margin of error is plus or minus 5%. Here are the key numbers:
- Frank: 49%
- Bielat: 37%
- Not sure: 12%
There’s much more in my full story over on WPRI.com, including insight from Eyewitness News political analyst Joe Fleming and a look at which groups of voters are learning toward Frank and which ones are going for Bielat. You can also find out how voters feel about President Obama, Sens. Scott Brown and John Kerry, and the financial crisis.
And if you missed it earlier, check out my earlier posts about Frank’s new campaign spending numbers, why we did the poll, and whether this is really a race.
With less than eight hours to go before WPRI releases the results of our exclusive 4th District poll, it’s becoming ever clearer how seriously U.S. Rep. Barney Frank is taking the challenge from his Republican opponent Sean Bielat.
Frank’s campaign war chest shrank by 40% in the first two weeks of October, according to his latest campaign finance report, which had to be filed by the end of today. The 14-term Democrat’s cash on hand dropped from about $1.1 million on Sept. 30 to $649,560 on Oct. 13.
The Bielat campaign hasn’t filed its latest financial report as of this writing. The Republican had $364,664 on hand as of Sept. 30. I’ll update when I get his numbers.
As for Frank, he spent $700,000 and raised $268,604 during the first half of this month. All told, he has shelled out $2.7 million during this election cycle to hold onto the seat he first won the year Ronald Reagan was elected president. This also helps explain why Frank said yesterday he is loaning his campaign $200,000.
For my Rhode Island readers, neither of the 1st District candidates – Democrat David Cicilline and Republican John Loughlin – has filed his campaign finance report as of now. These will be the last spending snapshots we get for federal candidates before voters go to the polls on Nov. 2.
(image credit: White House/Pete Souza)
U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, the pugnacious Democrat who’s represented Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District for three decades now, is in the midst of his toughest re-election fight in years against Republican Sean Bielat, a newcomer and former Marine from Brookline. As I mentioned earlier this month, I’m still skeptical about whether Frank will actually go down to defeat – but anything’s possible in 2010, and Frank is taking few chances.
Part of the reason for my skepticism is because we haven’t had any independent polling done on this race – all the gauges of voter sentiment have come from inside the two campaigns, which are not exactly unbiased sources.
Well, that’s about to change.
Tomorrow at 6 p.m., WPRI 12 will release the results of an exclusive survey of 400 likely voters in the 4th District conducted last weekend by our pollster, Joe Fleming. It’s the only independent poll anybody has done in a race that’s getting national attention, and it will give us a clear read on whether Bielat really stands a chance against Frank. We’ll reveal the results simultaneously on TV and online.
We also want to bring both Frank and Bielat into our studios for a televised debate focused on issues of concern to residents of Bristol County, Mass. The 4th District includes 12 communities there, including New Bedford and Taunton, plus part of Fall River. As a Bristol County native myself, I know how ignored the region often feels – when I lived there it seemed like the Boston stations only covered us when somebody got shot, and the Rhode Island stations have to cover a lot of ground across two states.
With that in mind, WPRI GM Jay Howell offered to air a Frank-Bielat debate – specifically for Bristol County voters – in prime time. “Voters in Fall River, New Bedford, Taunton and other area communities deserve the opportunity to watch a televised debate that’s focused on the issues critical to Bristol County,” he said in a statement. “That’s why we’ve been committed to organizing debates in all of the key races this November. There’s still time to make this debate happen, and we are hopeful that Congressman Frank will reconsider his decision and agree to debate Mr. Bielat.”
Originally, both campaigns agreed in principle to come for a debate – but then Frank’s campaign changed its mind, citing scheduling issues. I’m still holding out hope that we’ll make it happen, and I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, you can look forward to getting the poll results tomorrow at 6 and finding out once and for all where things stand in the 4th District.
(image credit: Associated Press/Steven Senne)