Barney Frank Will Seek Re-Election

By Jess Bidgood and Sarah Birnbaum

Feb. 3, 2011

BOSTON — After almost 20 years in office, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank announced Thursday that he's ready for more.

The 70-year-old representative from Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District said in a statement that he won't retire in 2012, ending speculation that he might make an exit ahead of a redistricting process in which Massachusetts will lose one seat in the House.

"There are a couple of issues that I care very deeply about that are in dispute right now," Frank said during an interview with WGBH. "And I think if I were to be seen as someone planning to get out within two years, or if there was uncertainty, it would weaken my impact."

Frank said he wants to spend more time in office defending the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which he helped pass as chair of the House Financial Services Committee, a position he lost when Republicans gained majority control of the House in the 2010 elections.

"I'm proud of the bill we passed, it took a lot of work, I think it will do a great deal to diminish the liklihood of another financial crash, it protects consumers, it will regulate derivatives, but the Republican majority in the House has already begun to undermine it," Frank said. "I think it is very important that we stay there and protect it."

Frank said he also wants to continue his efforts to cut the U.S. budget deficit by reducing military spending. "We go far beyond what we need to defend ourselves," Frank said.

Frank said he'll also be working on his continued opposition to aspects of federal regulation in East Coast waters.

None of the other sitting representatives have announced plans to step down, which means the state still has 10 members who could be vying for nine seats come 2012.

Frank says he's not worried about a redistricting battle. He's been there before. He was in office when Massachusetts lost a seat in 1982. "They drew up a district that was determined, supposedly, to defeat me. I thought it would, for a variety of reasons I managed to survive it. I understand the ins and outs of redistricting," Frank said.

In some ways, Frank’s district would have been ripe for elimination. It’s one of the most irregularly shaped districts in the country and, arguably would be easy to parcel out among adjacent districts.

But Frank’s stature in Congress may insulate his district from the axe.

Now experts say the most vulnerable Congressional seats are in Western Massachusetts – seats long held by John Olver of Amherst and his neighbor, Richard Neal of Springfield.

The 1st and 2nd districts are geographically large, but population growth has been stagnant and redistricting strategists say it makes sense to combine them.

But like Barney Frank, Neal and Olver say they have no plans to step down, ensuring a tense task for the Legislature’s redistricting committee.

Read the full statement:

I will be running for re-election to the House of Representatives in 2012.

While I would have preferred to put off a discussion about the next election until a later date, I have been asked on a number of occasions about my plans. In addition, I have become convinced that making my decision to run for re-election known is important for maximizing the impact I can have on the range of issues to which I am committed. These issues require a time commitment longer than the next two years.

There are two issues in particular that are of central importance. The first is to defend the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which will substantially diminish the likelihood of the risky and irresponsible behavior which led to the current economic crisis. The law is already under attack by those who oppose meaningful regulation and who would undermine it, either by pressuring regulators to weaken the law or by underfunding agencies such as the SEC and CFTC which are charged with administering it. The House Republican leadership has been very explicit about this, specifically targeting stronger regulation of derivatives, the independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and restrictions on excessively risky behavior by federally-insured banks. If these opponents of reform are successful, it will put American workers and families at risk of suffering the effects of another economic meltdown. I intend to do everything in my power to fight their efforts.

My second national priority is to reduce significantly America’s swollen, unnecessary, worldwide military footprint – this is the only way to reconcile the need for us to spend wisely, to promote our economy and to accomplish substantial deficit reduction. Failure to address excessive military spending will either add to the deficit or force cuts in education, police, fire, transportation, scientific research, food safety, and infrastructure investment. The disparity between the cost of America’s legitimate security needs and the money we spend to maintain a worldwide military presence is the single greatest obstacle to responsible deficit reduction. While in the past it has appeared to be politically impossible to make reasonable cuts to excessive military spending, there are recent encouraging signs, including the bipartisan work I have done with Congressman Ron Paul. I will continue to make this a major part of my work in order to improve our economy and preserve our quality of life.

While these two issues are central to our ability to return to a full-employment economy while protecting our quality of life, there are other national and regional issues on which I will be working as well -- protecting the fishing industry in Massachusetts from arbitrary, unjust and unfair actions; fighting for full legal equality for all citizens; providing for the housing needs of low-income people, not by pushing them unwisely and unsustainably into homeownership, but rather by building affordable rental housing; and helping local communities provide a level of service adequate to the needs of their residents.

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