Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) announced today that he will not seek re-election. Frank spoke at a press conference at Newton City Hall this afternoon and told reporters that “I do not choose to run for Congress in 2012.”
Frank has represented Massachusetts’ 4th congressional district since 1981. However, after a tougher than expected re-election bid in 2010, today’s announcement was not a surprise.
At today’s press comnference, the 71 year old Frank spoke to reporters for about 15 minutes and then took questions. Frank said that his decision not to run was due in part to the recent redistricting process in MA that substantially changed his potential constituency, with 325,000 new constituents in different areas of the state that he had not previously served.
“I don’t want to be torn between campaigning in a new district and my old constituents,” he said. As an example, Frank cited the importance of his work with the fishing industry in New Bedford, a city that would not be included in the new district.
Frank discusses the “conservative majority” in Congress
Frank said that another reason for his decision not to run for re-election in 2012 is what he called the “conservative majority” in Congress and “its desire for deficit reduction at the expense of social programs”. Frank said he feared that Congress would make cuts to domestic programs such as Medicare and Social Security withou,t reducing spending on the “one percent” and the military.
Frank told reporters that at first, this situation prompted him to consider running again. However, after more consideration, he said that he decided that he could be more effective advocating for fiscal reform outside of Congress.
Frank will continue to be an advocate
Frank also said that though he will not seek re-election, he will continue to be an advocate for issuesthat he cares about, “I’m not retiring from advocacy on public policy, “ he said, noting that “holding elective office is not considered one of the greatest virtues today.”
Congressman Frank said that if he had run again, it would have been a “tough fight”, though he said he believed he could win. “I have run 20 times and won 20 times,” both in the state level and national level, he said.
I will be “neither a lobbyist nor a historian” Frank added. As acerbic as ever, Frank jokingly told reporters that one of the benefits of stepping down that “I don’t have to pretend to be nice to people I don’t like.”
Frank has served MA 4th Congressional District for 30 years and is known as one of the most liberal political figures in Congress. He is the former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee from 2007 to 2011.