In a district no one thought a GOP challenger could ever have a chance in, Republican Sean Bielat has 15 term incumbent Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, fighting to keep his seat in the House. Mr Bielat attributes much of his momentum to Mr. Frank taking the race for granted and getting into campaign mode a little too late in the game.
“We’ve been doing voter-ID for three or four months now. He hasn’t been doing that. That makes a big difference. We’re actually making person to person contact. We’re figuring out who our voters are and where they are,” Mr. Bielat, a Major in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, told me following a campaign event at a local Elks Lodge in Fall River earlier in October.
Congressman Frank recently loaned his campaign $200,000. Many looked at the cash infusion as a sign that Mr. Frank is indeed more concerned about losing his seat than ever before.
However, Mr. Frank told me on Capitol Hill before Congress recessed in late September that he believed he was having a tougher race, because “right-wing media talk show hosts decided to target [him].” The Congressman included Beck, Limbaugh, and Hannity as examples.
Mr. Bielat takes exception with Rep. Frank’s reasoning, saying “Let’s take that logic one step further. Why Mr, Frank, are they targeting you? That’s never a discussion that he has. We all know the reasons they’re targeting him and they are good reasons, at least most of them have good reasons. But it also ignores the fact that he has other opponents in the past.”
Fleming and Hayes released an internal poll from the Bielat camp showing Mr. Bielat within the margin of error. An independent poll from WPRI released on October 22 (H/T The Sun Chronicle) showed a much wider margin between the two candidates.
Rep. Frank, known on Capitol Hill for angrily criticizing reporters for asking questions he doesn’t like, has apparently been tamer towards journalists during this campaign season, knowing his race is being watched carefully.
This is also likely due to not only Mr. Bielat’s rising popularity but also calm demeanor. “I’m not a firebrand,” Mr. Bielat explained. “People are open to listening, partly because of Scott Brown. I also found that if you explain why you think what you think, a lot of these people haven’t heard a Republican articulate a conservative position before in the past, and I’m not particularly scary. I think that makes a difference. If you go in there and you’re angry, that does not play well.”