Democratic Representative Barney Frank, who helped to craft the landmark overhaul of financial regulations that bears his name, will not seek re-election in 2012, Democratic aides said on Monday.
Frank, one of the most outspoken liberals in Congress, will hold a 1 p.m. EST news conference to discuss the decision, aides said.
Few members of Congress consistently showed as much fire in the belly as Frank, who seemed to love his job—and loved sticking it to Republicans—like few others. At age 71, he's not exactly young, but nor is he particularly old for the House, and he'd indicated earlier this year that he'd seek re-election. While his seat was made somewhat redder in redistricting, it's still overwhelmingly Democratic and shouldn't have given him any problems. (After all, he survived 2010's red tide by an 11-point margin.) Apparently it was a factor, though, as a "close advisor" told the Boston Globe that the loss of New Bedford and the addition of several conservative towns impacted Frank's thinking.
So this news is indeed extremely surprising. It will also undoubtedly spark a great deal of interest among politicians eager to succeed Frank. The Hotline's Jessica Taylor has already worked up a list:
A long line of potential Democratic successors will be looking at running, including Newton mayor Setti Warren, who dropped out of the Senate race earlier this year, state Rep. James Vallee, and state Sens. Marc Pacheco, Mike Rodrigues and James Timilty. Among Republicans, Bielat hasn't ruled out running again. And state Rep. Jay Barrows and former Hopkinton selectman Brian Herr would also be possible GOP contenders.
We'll keep you apprised of further developments as they happen.