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

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.

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