Barney Frank (D-MA) - photo onlinecasinohero.com
One would assume, given the media drumbeat regarding Massachusetts as the Bluest State, that Barney Frank will remain the Congressman from the Massachusetts 4th District until they pry his cold dead body out of the seat at the ripe old age of 110. Although Frank did have opposition for the seat from Republican Earl Sholley in 2008, Sholley’s campaign was so far “under the radar” that it is no wonder Frank carried the district by 68%. The final tally from the 4th gave Frank 203,032 ballots cast out of a total 315,734. That said, the 4th District is comprised of the following counties: Bristol, Middlesex, Norfolk and Plymouth – The voter registration for these four counties (as of October 2008), was as follows: Total, 2,072,793 with: 751,174 Democrats, 206,326 Republican, and 860,140 Unenrolled. (A voter registration trend that is the norm for every district in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.) The Counties of Bristol, Middlesex and Norfolk and Plymouth are shared with the 3rd District, including certain wards in the City of Fall River, as well as the 5th, 6th , 7th , 8th, 9th and 10th Districts. With the Democrat incumbent in each district winning handily, only 3 were opposed by Republican candidates. (It is also interesting to note that none of these candidates we “well-known” within the district in which they campaigned).
Barney Frank in his "youth" - photo: barneyfrank.biz
How disgusted are the people of Massachusetts over lack of choice? In these districts, 415,543 votes were cast as “blank”. , the higher blank vote count in districts where the Incumbent Democrat ran unopposed. The total votes in each district were roughly the same as the 4ths, with the highest voter turnout in the 5th, at 400,846, with 127,171 blank ballots cast.
Therefore, the Democrats can assume they will receive at least 36% of the districts Registered Democrats votes, losing the 12% of Republican votes, and with no known opposition, taking the majority of the Independent Vote. This scenario will continue, unless, of course, alternative candidates emerge that will target Republican and Independent voters, by actively campaigning for a maximum of 9 months, but especially hard in the final 3 months of the campaign. Campaigns are not won by only preaching to the choir (although those barbeque's and cocktail parties are essential for fundraising in the early stages), but by taking a message of fiscal responsibility directly to the taxpayer, regardless of party affiliation. Covering a district may appear daunting, but it is a far less daunting task that covering the State.
As far as Frank and the 4th district are concerned, in the 2008 election, the opposition candidate(s), Sholley (who incidentally has a few issues that made him less than perfect, an underfunded campaign that got off to a late start) managed to amass 75,571 votes, Susan Allen, an Independent, and also unknown, received 19,848 votes, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Bugs Bunny received 337 votes, and those that could not vote for Frank, did not know Sholley or Allen well enough to vote for either of them, and could not remember the name of a cartoon character, cast 16,946 bank ballots.
Frank appears to have that district sown up, however, since he’s had more of the spotlight given his high profile position in the Congress, allowing for bizarre and often inflammatory statements, coupled with his ties to Freddie and Fannie and his desire to cut the military budget by an astounding 25%there are a growing number of individuals nationwide and within the District that would prefer Barney retire.
The 4th district varies demographically, from the working class and fishing industry in the Fall Rivers/New Bedford Area - (said Fishing Industry Frank keeps supplied with pork), to the middle and upper middle income strongholds of Plymouth County - and party affiliation is stacked against Frank - although widely believed to be a Democrat Stronghold, the 4th district is overwhelmingly designated unenrolled, at over 50%. A well funded and prepared candidate (not yet announced), who runs his media message on Frank's association with Fannie and Freddie, points to the fact that the district has become increasingly impoverished despite the support Frank throws their way, and knocks on all the doors in the district (so to speak) will do well.
Barney Frank's Replacement - TBA
With an albeit small, but energized State Republican Party under the leadership of Chair, Jennifer Nassour, the task of defeating Frank is not as far-fetched as one had previously believed. The fact that the Republican Party is hitting every news source on a daily basis with strong criticism of Democrats who are less than fiscally or ethically sound, is sending a message to the voters that yes, indeed, there is an alternative. Prior to Ms. Nassour taking the lead, the silence form the State GOP was deafening.
Take the 2008 Senate election as an example, although polls indicated that over 51% of the states populace would prefer to see John Kerry retire, and he faced opposition in Republican candidate Jeff Beatty, Kerry still won the election rather handily. When one examines the polls released during the campaign, (Rasmussen, Suffolk and Survey USA), Beatty tracked between 29 and 35% approval, with 40 and 30% of voters indicating he was “unknown”, what is interesting is that Beatty’s approval rose in direct proportion to the decline in numbers of respondents indicating “unknown” over a period of three months. Had Beatty changed strategy or more likely had the wherewithal to run advertising across the state; the outcome may have been quite different. In the final analysis, the Candidate that makes himself known in the 4th district, specifically a fiscally conservative, moderate candidate that campaigns strong in the final quarter of the campaign, will banish Frank to the footnotes of history.