By WGBH News
Nov. 29, 2011
BOSTON — With longtime Congressman Barney Frank’s political eulogy being read far and wide, attention is turning to the obvious question: Who’s next? And on which side of the aisle will they sit?
Complicating the question is the very fact that made Frank decide to retire: There’s a newly reconfigured 4th District in town.
Tufts University political science professor Jeff Berry told WGBH News’ Sarah Birnbaum that Democrats shouldn’t have a problem winning.
“His district remains very Democratic. It’s a bit more Republican than it was in the past, but the heart of the district are Newton and Brookline, which are very Democratic, and very liberal, cities,” he said.
Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) also stumped for blue.
“It’s a district that Barack Obama won by 60 percent in 2008 and John Kerry won by 62 percent in 2004,” he told WGBH News’ Bob Seay. “It’s not impossible, I suppose, for a Republican to contend that they can win. But the bottom line is that with Barack Obama on top of the ticket, in Massachusetts, in 2012, against any of the people who they’re talking about nominating, it’s highly, highly unlikely that a Republican can win that seat.”
As for Kerry’s hard-fought battle in 2010 against Republican Sean Bielat, Markey scoffed, “He won by 10 points… only in Mass. is a 10-point victory considered to be close.”
Mass. Republican Party executive director Nathan Little begged to differ.
“If you look at it, there’s actually six Republican state reps in that seat… it includes Scott Brown’s hometown,” he told WGBH News’ Jordan Weinstein. “In Mass. for Republicans, [it’s] actually a very strong area for us anyway. So I think nationally folks are looking at it.”
No matter who gets the Republican nomination, Little said, “I think the financial support will be there regardless because there’s going to be a lot of attention paid to this seat as one that looks like there’s an opportunity for a pick-up.“
The cast of contenders has yet to firm up.
Dr. Elizabeth Childs of Brookline had already declared her candidacy for the Republican nomination before Frank made his announcement. Setti Warren, the Newton mayor who recently dropped out of the race for Scott Brown’s Senate seat, said he won’t run.
A would-be representative doesn’t have to move into the district until they’re elected, host Emily Rooney pointed out on “Greater Boston” on Nov. 28. Her guests agreed that opened a lot of possibilities.
Trey Greyson, director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School, said, “Because it’s a brand-new district it’s a lot easier to move into the district. Because nobody knows who really is in this district. So it really is a statewide opportunity for an ambitious elected official.”
Former state Sen. Warren Tolman — who ruled himself out — pointed to another former Senate candidate: “If you’re Alan Khazei, and you have a million and a half or so dollars in the bank and you have some recognition, you’ve got to take a look at it.”
He added, “I think there are going to be a lot of people who are evaluating” a run.
Not, however, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, a favorite of conservatives who tamped down speculation on "Greater Boston" on Nov. 29. To run in the new 4th, Hodgson would have to move — something he said was unlikely.
FRANK TALKS TO WGBH NEWS
FRANK: "I DO NOT CHOOSE TO RUN"
'END OF AN ERA' FOR MASS.