03 February 2011

Frank May Get His Seat Adjusted

Now that Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA 4th) has announced his intention for re-election in the 2012 cycle, Massachusetts state politicians are put in an uncomfortable position.  While the Democrats retain the Governorship of the Bay State along with a majority in both chambers of the Commonwealth’s legislature, gerrymandering decisions will not be simple.

Due to the 2010 Census, Massachusetts will lose one of its 10 current Congressional seats.  Since Massachusetts’ House delegation is all Democrat, there is no easy partisan choice.  Rep. Frank has one of the most Gerrymandered districts in America.  Still, the 16-term Congressman, who chaired the powerful and prominent House Banking Committee, won his last election by a veritable squeaker of 11 points against a 35 year old former Marine Scott Bielat.

The prominence and power that even a ranking member of the House Banking Committee makes it unlikely that Frank will be redrawn out of his riding.  In fact, he may garner more liberal leaners as the current MA-4th leaned for Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) in the January 2010 special election.

 But wonks who are advising Massachusetts politicians on reshuffling the Congressional seats will not be as readily able to help Rep. John Olver (D-MA 1st) who represents a Republican friendly district in Western Massachusetts or Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA 2nd) who only won by 14% in the 2010 elections.

The brunt of the line shifting may fall on Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA 3rd), who had a comfortable margin in 2010 (with the aid of an independent candidate) and his district is adjacent to Frank’s current gerrymandered seat.

With the change in leadership in the House of Representatives, Democrat incumbents in Massachusetts may not have as lucrative fundraising efforts in 2012.  The national Democrat party will be focusing on the 21 Senate seats that they will need to defend.  Frank’s clinging to his seat may make other Bay State Democrats more vulnerable when they next face the voters.

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