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

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)

19 thoughts on “Is Barney Frank in trouble? We’re about to find out

  1. I’m going to venture a guess, just based on the incredible energy around one of the campaigns.

    With just that one statement though, and I think I’ve already given away my choice.

    The energy is on the side of Sean. Barney needed to recruit his domestic partner to help out on one recent evening. The Frank volunteer base, well, there isn’t one.

    Sean has the momentum, energy, and enthusiastic support to take this election.

    But don’t base your choice on ‘picking the favorite’, check thee two candidates out!! Sean is a clear leader with sound thoughtful policy positions.

    On all the recent debates, Frank just looks confused and frustrated.

    Go Sean

    To find out how to take Sean over the top, visit

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with the previous comment. One correction: It’s (not .com)and I’m hearing that there’s a big online money bomb scheduled from 10/24-10/27 that will feature the work of film maker Ladd Ehlinger. In the interim, you can donate at

    Sean Bielat is a Marine, a successful businessman and a first-time Dad. His academic credentials (Georgetown, Harvard & Wharton) are impeccable and he is a thoughtful, rational man with a calm demeanor. In short, he’s Barney Frank’s worst nightmare! 30 years is quite enough. It’s time to retire Barney and bring some fiscal sanity to DC!

  3. Sean is an amazing candidate. The people would be seriously crazy NOT to elect him and see what he can do for the district. Term limits are not such a bad deal when you’ve got people like BARNEY FRANK hanging around.

  4. Unfortunately, I live in District 3. If only our District had any geographical logic to it, we’d be a part of District 4 and I could be a part of the movement to vote out the vile individual. There is a stark philosophical contrast between Sean and BF, and BF should never show up to a debate lest he be exposed for the angry, petty, corrupt, shameless liberal that he is. But, fear not, BF sends his bf to do his dirty work, only to further expose how vile he is.

  5. Bielat is a carpetbagger from NY, who was registered as a democrat until moving to MA only two years ago. Bielat is an anti-abortion extremist activist, who opposes Roe V Wade (settled American law) and who refused to answer a reporter when asked whether he supports legal abortion even in cases of RAPE and INCEST. My congressional district will not allow such a radical in DC. My advice to Sean is that he take the Tea Bagger routine somewhere it might be appreciated, like Kansas or Iran.

  6. “Informed Voter”, Hmmm…was Bobby Kennedy a “carpetbagger” when he moved from MA to NY to become their Senator? How about Hillary? The law says that if you are a resident, you can run. Don’t like that, change the law. Barney has lived here for decades and he almost single handedly ruined the housing market. If longevity in a district is your measuring stick, you will come up short every time.

    We can all find bad candidates and scumbags on both sides of the aisle. In my opinion, anyone who votes for one party over the other without regard to the character of the candidates running is just perpetuating the problems that we have in Washington and oin Beacon Hill.

    We absolutely have to elected men and women of character to these important positions, and Sean Bielat,, is just the kind of individual we need representing us. But guess what, if he becomes jaded like so many do when they get to Washington, we’ll replace him, too.

    Did the GOP let us down for the last 10 years? Absolutely, but so did the Democrats. Neither party was listening to the people. We train people how to treat us, and the apathy of the electorate showed Congress that they could do anything they wanted and not fear losing their jobs. Well, that is not going to happen ever again.

    I proudly support Sean Bielat and so should you by goung to or (smart phone) and donating to his campaign.

  7. @Informed voter Re. your comment “My congressional district will not allow such a radical in DC.”

    Your congressional district has put such a radical in DC over and over for the last 30 years. Ohhh, but he’s radical for the causes you support, so that’s Ok.

    Your own radical left wing bias negates any value your comments might have held.

    We’re looking for a return to common sense in Washington, and Sean Bielat in the 4th district can lead the way.

    I’m voting for Sean

    To find ways to help Sean’s campaign, visit

  8. I’m 26 and a Newton, MA resident. I have a wonderful girlfriend with whom I would like to marry, buy a home and raise a few kids. That is all I want, I’ve never been seriously interested in politics before. However, how can I possibly trust the most important investment of my life – a house – to a market where I could easily lose it? Barney Frank propped up the Fannie and Freddie. Barney Frank “rolled the dice” on the housing market – and WE are the ones who lost. Mr. Frank still has a job while so many are out of work BECAUSE OF MR. FRANK’S SPECIAL INTERESTS IN FANNIE AND FREDDIE.

    It’s not about Republicans versus Democrats; it’s about good versus bad policies. So whether you are just starting out or just have children or grandchildren who are, PLEASE VOTE BARNEY OUT. Barney Frank (and I make no comments on his lifestyle) could not possibly understand what it is like to have a family, the ONLY thing he cares about is maintaining his legacy. It does not matter to him whether or not young families lose their homes, as long as he goes down in the history books favorably.

    Sean Bielat, on the other hand, has a wonderful wife Hope and 2 month old son Theo – all of whom I have had the pleasure of meeting. So I am voting for Sean Bielat, and I hope you make an informed decision by visiting

    And if you don’t think Mr. Frank supported Fannie and Freddie – let him tell you himself:

  9. If Sean Bielat raped your teenage daughter, he would favor a federal law that required his victim to give birth to his demonic spawn.

    THIS is the best you have to offer?? a candidate who refuses to separate himself from the social policies of the TALIBAN and IRANIAN REGIME? Seriously, tea baggers…good luck with that.

  10. “un” Informed Voter – Don’t you libs get it? It’s STILL the economy, stupido. And, in case you missed the memo, more Americans are pro-life than pro-death.

  11. I’m a Newton resident, but would watch the WPRI debate focusing on Bristol County. If Rep. Frank continues to duck, please ask Sean Bielat to address Bristol’s issues without Frank. The voters deserve to hear Bielat’s take on their concerns.

    Meanwhile, I can’t say I’m surprised that Frank has “scheduling” problems. He has mostly bloviated in debates to date so that Bielat has seemed the winner.

    I anticipate your poll and appreciate your coverage of this important race!

  12. One way to understand the shift towards Republican candidates this year is that this election is not so much about the usual right versus left issues but is about money. Who can count the dollars, who can see the fiscal train wreck that will come unless action is taken. Thus this campaign is about those who advocate a careful counting of our financial resources versus those who are unable or unwilling to do so. Many Democrats, if not most, are able to count the money. When they do so they see that Sean Beilat is on the right track while Barney Frank is not. Look at their resumes: Wharton Business School (Bielat) versus Harvard Lawyer School (Frank). Which one is likely to be better at counting?

  13. Barney is the poster boy for people who need to be booted out of office.
    People of Massachusetts, please vote him out>

  14. Frank is widely regarded as “the smartest member of Congress.” He is always voted as the smartest, most hardworking member (and also the funniest); see the Washingtonian magazine. I am jealous, frankly, that he isn’t my representative. People are focusing on ONE issue: The fannie mae crap (which actually was allowed to happen under Bush and a Repub. Congress), but Barney has done SO MUCH more with his time in office, and always speaks eloquently on the house floor.

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