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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who's next?

How do you replace someone larger than life?

As a young pup covering the race that sent Joe Kennedy to Congress in 1986, I joked I didn't want him as my congressman so I up and moved from the 8th District to the 4th because Barney Frank was more my taste. At that point Barney had already been in office for three terms, having replaced a legend, Father Robert Drinan, then ousting Republican Margaret Heckler in a classic redistricting face-off between incumbents.

Now the scramble is on to replace Frank, whose retirement announcement set off shock waves here and in Washington. And at first blush, the potential field is incredibly unimpressive.

For Democrats, the problem is a short bench, much as it was after the passing of Ted Kennedy. Whoever gets the nod in the new 4th District won't carry the burden of needing to run statewide, like the field that trickled to the starting line until Elizabeth Warren emerged to face Scott Brown.

But as a longtime district resident, I'm hard pressed to name anyone, except perhaps for Alan Khazei who has name recognition in the northern end. Setti Warren has wisely opted out and there are several less than inspiring local office holders and wannabees who may opt to see if lightning can strike.

And as for the newly reconstituted southern end, there's even less to chose from at first blush aside from Republican Rep. Dan Winslow, who has already issued a Shermanesque demurral.

Sean Bielat, who produced more wind than votes in losing to Frank in 2010, would also represent the southern end, having moved to Philadelphia while appearing to keep his options open.

It's rare for a state to have one nationally important election and Massachusetts already has the preeminent Senate race between Brown and Warren. With the House likely to be a battleground in a nation fed up with a do-damage Congress, we can add the 4th District to that list, no matter who emerges in either party.

The departure of liberal legends has a tendency to focus attention.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larger than life? Are your kidding? This guy, while voting well, is obnoxious, arrogant, and mean. It will be great to get anyone in there who is polite and respectful, as well as politically astute.

Finally, I can stop blanking the ballot!

November 29, 2011 5:05 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

If you can't see that Frank -- no matter how obnoxious, arrogant and mean he may be -- is not an outsized political personality and pivotal historic figure -- you need stronger bifocals.

Yeah, I know he's no Newt Gingrich.

November 29, 2011 6:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A blanked ballot? I guess you didn't even like the candidate running against Barney, unless he was unopposed that year. Of course, what does it say about the opposition party when they complain about an elected official, but fail to even put up a nominal candidate against him? I shouldn't talk, though. I blanked a ballot in a city council race when my local Councillor, who I don't like, ran unopposed for reelection.

November 29, 2011 9:29 AM  

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