comings and goings

Republicans Won’t Have Barney Frank to Kick Around Much Longer [Updated]

House Financial Services Committee ranking member Barney Frank (D-MA) participates in a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill July 21, 2011.
Frank will be forever known as one half of Dodd–Frank, the male response to early-nineties group Wilson Phillips. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

For years now, Congressman Barney Frank, along with former speaker Nancy Pelosi, has served, whenever necessary, as the GOP’s go-to “godless, America-destroying liberal.” But soon enough, Pelosi will have to shoulder that terrible burden alone. In a press conference at 1 p.m. today, Frank, who has served Massachusetts’s Newton-based fourth district since 1981 and became the country’s first openly gay congressman in 1987, will announce that he won’t be running for reelection in 2012.

The Boston Globe reports one possible explanation for Frank’s retirement:

A close adviser told the Globe today that the new district in which Frank would have had to run next year was a major factor in his decision. While it retained his Newton stronghold, it was revised to encompass more conservative towns while Frank also lost New Bedford, a blue-collar city where had invested a lot of time and become a leading figure in the region’s fisheries debate.

Officeholders rarely cite such political calculations when they retire — usually it’s “spending more time with family” or some other bullshit — but if anyone has the potential to be so frank, it’s, well, Frank.

Update: At his press conference this afternoon, Frank was, indeed, frank, admitting that he’s retiring because of electoral concerns:

I was planning to run again and then the congressional redistricting came,” Frank said on Monday. “I know my own capacity and energy levels and it would have been a mistake … I could not have put the requisite effort in.”

Frank was also … Frank:

I did not think I lived a good enough life to see Newt Gingrich as the Republican nominee,” Frank said Monday. “He would be the best thing to happen to Democrats since Barry Goldwater.”

Even though he announced his retirement on Monday, Frank said, he would not drop out of the political debate. “I‘m not retiring from advocacy of public policy.”

“I will be neither a lobbyist or a historian,” Frank said, in another dig at Gingrich, who claimed he was hired by Freddie Mac as the latter.

Barney Frank Won’t Seek Reelection