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Get Barney

cpwill

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We can rid ourselves of this destructive presence in the Congress; Dodd is retiring, put Barney out to Pasture.


Frank is still the clear favorite in Massachusetts’s 4th congressional district. But even as he speaks, it has come out that he’s lent his campaign two hundred grand from his own pocket, and reporters are nagging him about a bizarre — and for a 30-year incumbent, wildly undisciplined — incident in which his boyfriend, Jim Ready, was caught on camera going paparazzo on Republican challenger Sean Bielat — snapping photos and hurling insults.

And although he won’t say it in so many words, Frank’s campaign has a look and feel of — if not desperation, than at least discomfort. Frank says that his internals have him up between 19 and 20 points but admits that the race has become nationalized, and he’s had to campaign harder than in previous years. He’s even running TV spots — something he last did in his 2004 semi-official campaign to succeed John Kerry had the latter become president — in the effort to fend off the pesky Beilat, a 35-year-old Marine veteran whose list of almae matres reads like the top college rankings from U.S. News and World Report.

And the tone at a Frank campaign rally in Newton later that night can be described as somewhere between manic and panic...

“I think this is the most important off-year election that we’ve ever had,” Frank warns, saying that the “right wing” is “poised to take over the country.” Newton’s mayor says it is “absolutely critical to return Barney to the Congress at this time in our nation’s history.” Several speakers hammer how crucial it will be to turn out 2008 Democratic voters who may be feeling dejected.

And Koutoujian even calls Bielat a “formidable Republican opponent,” and “probably the best” Frank has ever faced...

Frank won’t talk to reporters about his boyfriend’s heckling, calling it “not very important” and questioning why the media is focusing on the “etiquette” of “something as trivial as an argument between two adults” when his constituents are worried about “economics.”

Nor will Bielat use the incident to score easy points, telling NRO only that it “surprised” him that the video of the incident “reached such a large audience.” “It was a brief interchange,” he says. “What I hope voters are listening to is my message.”..

If Frank is showing voters the goody-bag of federal spending he’s delivered to his district, Bielat is showing them the bill. At a candidates’ forum at the Newtonville Senior Center, Frank drops in to attack Bielat for proposing to raise the retirement age for Social Security then promptly excuses himself, hovering in the back of the room for a few minutes, Styrofoam cup of coffee in hand, to listen to Bielat’s even, measured reply. Forget his years in the Marine Corps, uncommon valor is Bielat telling a room full of Massachusetts seniors that the only solution to inevitable Social Security insolvency is a combination of privatization, means-testing, and a higher retirement age.

The Rochester, N.Y., native, who now lives in Brookline with his wife and son, is clearly comfortable talking straight with voters. This is a state that valorizes elected officials more than others, whether it’s the group of working joes lauding the fact that “Bah-ney’s a 30-year veteran!” as they pose for shots with Frank outside the Union Bar & Grille or the one hostile senior in Newtonville who declares Bielat can’t know what he’s talking about on Social Security because he’s “never worked for the government” (the U.S.M.C., it seems, doesn’t count). And yet, for the most part, they seem receptive to Bielat’s outsider message, frequently applauding his answers to their questions.

When NRO asks if he ever thought the race would be this competitive, Bielat answers without hesitation: “Yes I did, or else I wouldn’t have done it.”

He disputes the methodology of Frank’s polling. His own internals have the race much closer, inside 10, and he expects more good news from third-party polling before the election. When NRO asks him about Frank’s decision to pony up $200K to his own campaign, Bielat smiles and admits “it made my day.”
 

Ned Racine

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IF Frank loses it will be obvious that a Tidal Wave is under way and the GOP will not only take the House, but have some elbow room once in the majority.

The other Big EST race to watch is the Connecticut Senate race because there's still an outside chance that Linda McMahon can pull it out - which BTW means that O'Donnell in Small state Delaware could squeek in.
 
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