Rep. Barney Frank Will Not Seek Re-Election

Rep. Barney Frank after announcing he will not seek reelection in 2012, in Newton, Monday (AP)

BOSTON — Sixteen-term Democratic Rep. Barney Frank announced his retirement Monday effective at the end of next year, closing out a congressional career of more than three decades and capped by passage of legislation imposing new regulations on Wall Street.

At a news conference from Newton City Hall Monday, the 71-year-old said a number of factors contributed to his decision not to seek another term, including recently completed redistricting.

“If I were to run again, I would be engaged full-fledged in a campaign, which is entirely appropriate. But the fact that it is so new makes it harder, in terms of learning about new areas, introducing myself to new people,” Frank said.

“There are 326,000 new people, many of whom I’ve never represented, some of whom I haven’t represented for 20 years, which is an eternity in our politics today.”

Massachusetts lawmakers just redrew Frank’s current 4th Congressional District, making it larger and eliminating New Bedford, where he held a lot of support. The district also picked up parts of the more conservative Blackstone Valley.

Frank has long found his political base in the liberal strongholds of Brookline and Newton. Constituents visiting the Newton Public Library Monday were sorry to hear of his retirement.

“I’m very troubled by [his retirement] because he’s been a wonderful representative and I know we’ll all miss him,” said Joanne Grossman. “In fact we don’t call him Barney Frank, we all call him Barney.”

Rona Hamada was also sorry to hear of his retirement, but she thinks it’s the right move.

“First of all, with the redistricting, I think it will change things,” Hamada said. “But I also think that politically, there’ll be a lot of dirt flying because of the redistricting, and I don’t think he needs to be in it.”

Frank’s decision will likely touch off a scramble among challengers looking to claim a rare open congressional seat.

Frank was first elected to the House in 1980. He was one of the first lawmakers to announce that he is a homosexual.

He is the senior Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, a panel he chaired when Democrats held a majority for four years beginning in early 2007.

As chairman, he helped shepherd to passage legislation that provided the most extensive overhaul of the nation’s financial system in decades. The measure, which is known as the Dodd-Frank Act, was a response to the near collapse of the banking industry in 2008 and disclosures about Wall Street practices that stirred mass anger.

The Harvard College and Harvard University Law School graduate was an assistant to Boston Mayor Kevin White in the late 1960s. He served in the Massachusetts House from 1973 to 1980, representing the Back Bay and Beacon Hill, before joining Congress.

With reporting by The Associated Press, State House News Service and the WBUR Newsroom


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  • cindy

    You can’t get more party bias than this guy. He cared more about his stupid little political party than the country, state and citizens.  He’s the type of hack that needs to be removed from Congress.

    • Fullsprectrumconsults

      “can’t get more party bias than this guy”  Really?  Cindy, have you ever heard of the GOP???  you are obviously a fox news fan.

      • cindy

        Of course the republicans have their share of bias hacks.  Get rid of them also.  I didn’t know this article was about a republican quitting congress. You must be a bias, left wing hack to respond like that! When confronted, that is the only way party hacks can respond is to blame the other party.
        Fox news…lol. That is too funny. Who cares about Fox News.  Really,
        is that supposed to be hurtful or intellectual?  Go watch MSNBC…lol. 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your many years of public service. 

  • Vic L’Esperance

    This is a huge loss for the Commonwealth and the delegation.  He was a “five tool” congressman to borrow an analogy from baseball.  He had the conviction coupled with intelligence, wit, work ethic, and understanding of the institution to become a star of the party.  I read where Tip O’Neill thought he was destined to become the first Jewish Speaker of the House until scandal derailed that eventuality.  Despite that blemish, his long record of effectiveness was crowned by
     reforms to the financial system he guided into law.  This legislation evened the playing field to help the little person which was a hallmark of his public service. 

    I hope he enjoys his well deserved retirment.  I also hope that his voice is still heard loudly and clearly.  The Obama Administration could do worse than to put him to work in the White House. 

  • Jemimah

    Sounds to me like he feels he’ll be a more effective activist and defender of the people without having to deal with the shenanigans of Congress.  And I think he may have a point!  Cindy, I think you’re talking about Scott Brown.  You have your Massachusetts politicians mixed up!

  • Pat PIper-Smyer

    A VERY sad bit of news for all thinking Americans who value inelligence, good judgment, and quick wit. 
    Pat in PA.

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