barney frank

Jack Reed gets glowing portrait in behind-the-scenes DC book

July 9th, 2013 at 5:00 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site


A new book by veteran Washington Post editor Robert Kaiser takes a behind-the-scenes look at how the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act made its way through Congress, and few politicians come off better than Rhode Island’s senior U.S. senator.

Kaiser’s book, “Act of Congress,” relies on two years of reporting and hundreds of interviews to tell the story of Dodd-Frank specifically and Congress today more broadly. Among those Kaiser interviewed were U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and Kara Stein, a longtime senior aide to Reed on banking issues who was recently nominated to join the Securities and Exchange Commission by President Obama.

Kaiser says Congressman Barney Frank, who led the House’s work on the financial-reform bill, had hoped U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., would share leadership of the Senate Banking Committee with “one of Frank’s favorites, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a former House colleague” if U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., took over a different committee after Ted Kennedy’s death.

Johnson’s health had become an issue after he suffered a major stroke, while “Reed was liberal, bright, hardworking – Frank’s kind of member,” Kaiser writes.


38 Studios’ Curt Schilling won’t run for Barney Frank’s seat

December 9th, 2011 at 9:59 am by under Nesi's Notes

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.”

Among those contemplating a run to represent the new-look 4th are two Democrats – Joseph P. Kennedy III and Boston City Councilor Michael Ross – and Republican Elizabeth Childs.

Reed puts Frank among ‘most extraordinary’ congressmen

November 28th, 2011 at 1:45 pm by under Nesi's Notes

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.

Read the rest of this story »

New-look 4th District likely pushed Barney Frank to retire

November 28th, 2011 at 10:22 am by under Nesi's Notes

The new map in Mass.

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.

New fundraising figures put Whitehouse in good shape

February 2nd, 2011 at 1:53 pm by under General Talk

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse finished last year with $723,000 in his campaign account as he prepares for what could be a competitive reelection fight in 2012.

Whitehouse’s war chest grew by $147,327 between Sept. 30 and Dec. 31, according to a new Federal Election Commission filing obtained by

Cook Political Report senior editor Jennifer Duffy – who’s also a Rhode Island native – told me Whitehouse is in decent shape gearing up for his first campaign as an incumbent senator.

“He’s doing pretty well,” Duffy said. “This is a pretty strong starting number. … The ball has started rolling, and this is a healthy start.” Rhode Island’s small size also makes it a relatively low-cost state in which to run.

The numbers do not include the donations Whitehouse received at a major fundraiser he held Sunday night at the Providence Biltmore, which was headlined by his colleague Jack Reed and attracted a who’s who of local politicians.

The big question now is which Republican will step forward to challenge Whitehouse next year. All eyes are on recently departed Gov. Donald Carcieri, who’s weighing whether to jump into the race. A decision by Carcieri – and then if he opts out, the eventual Republican nominee – is likely to come by the spring.

Since Whitehouse took office in January 2007, he has raised $1.71 million and spent slightly more than that – $1.78 million. But much of that money went toward paying off leftover expenses from his original Senate campaign.

Whitehouse’s donations mainly have come from political action committees and individuals writing big checks; he’s only raised $26,522 from those who gave small amounts of $200 or less, Duffy said.

Asked how much Whitehouse and his opponent are likely to spend next year, Duffy said: “Let’s see who runs.”

Jack Reed, who is not up for reelection until 2014, continues to maintain a huge war chest – it totaled $2.4 million as of Dec. 31. “That’s what I call intimidating,” Duffy said. Reed’s financial advantage and popularity here in Rhode Island make him about as safe as a politician can be.

The state’s two congressmen closed out 2010 with amounts that Duffy said “make sense” considering the pair just finished a campaign. Congressman Jim Langevin had $177,927 and David Cicilline had $37,562.

In fact, both of Rhode Island’s House members had more money than their colleagues who represent Bristol County, Mass.: Congressman Jim McGovern had $26,137 and Barney Frank had just $21,038 after a hard-fought race. The state’s junior senator, Scott Brown, had an astonishing $7.2 million in his campaign account at the end of 2010.

The Washington Post has a good overview of how much money the 33 senators up next year have on hand if you’d like to read more.

Cook ups Bielat’s chances of beating Barney Frank

October 29th, 2010 at 10:42 am by under General Talk

Frank and Bielat at an Oct. 11 debate

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.

David Wasserman, Cook’s House editor, switched his rating on MA-4 from “Likely Democratic” to “Lean Democratic” – the same rating he has on the RI-1 race between David Cicilline and John Loughlin.

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.)

Cicilline has nearly twice as much cash as Loughlin

October 22nd, 2010 at 9:35 am by under News and Politics

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.

Barney Frank up by 12 points in new WPRI poll

October 21st, 2010 at 6:00 pm by under News and Politics

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, 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.

Barney Frank spending heavily to hold his seat

October 21st, 2010 at 10:35 am by under News and Politics

Frank in the Oval Office last year

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)

Is Barney Frank in trouble? We’re about to find out

October 20th, 2010 at 5:10 pm by under General Talk

Frank and Bielat at an Oct. 11 debate

New: Frank spent $700,000 in two weeks

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)