Sean Bielat, the Marine veteran whose 2010 GOP challenge to Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank became a national conservative cause, says he will make a decision "next week" on whether to run again next year for the Fourth District seat being vacated by Frank's recently announced retirement.
"I want to make a decision next week," Bielat said Thursday, explaining that he doesn't want to "be in limbo" about his plans. "I mean, if I'm going to get in, I want to raise money this quarter. And if I'm going to raise money in December, when the holidays are coming up, I've got to do it right at the beginning. So that means making my decision right away."
Frank announced his retirement Monday, citing changes to the re-drawn Fourth District as the primary factor in his decision not to seek a 17th term next year. Although there has been a slight increase in the number of GOP voters in the district, many observers suggested Frank feared a re-match with Bielat, who raised $2.4 million for his 2010 campaign.
"It's still overwhelmingly Democrat, but it's a much better district than before," Bielat told me in a brief telephone interview, noting that Frank had "been re-districted before and not retired. The difference is, he had a challenge last time. Now it's a new district and I think he just wasn't sure he'd make it through and it wasn't worth the effort."
Frank defeated Bielat by a 24,000-vote margin, but only after being forced into eight debates with the Republican challenger and lending his campaign $200,000 out of his own pocket in an attempt to stave off the Tea Party-backed conservative.
On Election Day last year, Frank "thought he was going to lose," Bielat said. "We were told that by a number of the reporters who were following him and who were in his van -- they thought they were going to lose. ... I don't think he enjoyed this experience. He hadn't really done this since 1982. I don't think he enjoyed the eight debates. I think he was worn out. And I think he didn't want to do it again, particularly if the district was going to be more favorable to his opponent."
Bielat gave credit to conservative New Media -- including blogs, Fox News, and a viral YouTube video produced by filmmaker Ladd Ehlinger Jr. -- with helping turn his campaign against Frank into a story followed closely by national media. Bielat's wife recently gave birth to their second child, and he said family concerns as well as consideration for other Republicans will be factored into his decision on whether to seek the Fourth District seat next year.
"You know there's a number of other Republicans who are calling me to find out my plans, because if I'm not getting in, they may want to get in," Bielat said. "So I certainly don't want to slow them down and, you know, I don't want to be in limbo myself. . . . So I want to make this decision fairly soon."
I covered Bielat's campaign against Frank last fall: "Can Bielat Beat Barney" (Oct. 11, 2010), "Barney Frank, Interrupted" (Oct. 13, 2010) and "Barney's Boyfriend and the Bitter End" (Oct. 20, 2010). On Tuesday, The American Spectator's Jim Antle examined Frank's role in the housing bubble and Thursday, editor R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. offered his own bye-bye to Barney.