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Another Mass. GOP hopeful seeks Frank's seat

January 17, 2012
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ATTLEBORO, Mass.—The race for the newly redrawn 4th Massachusetts Congressional District is getting crowded.

Republican Sean Bielat, who lost to Democratic U.S. Rep. Barney Frank in 2010, has jumped into the contest. He made the announcement official Tuesday afternoon in Attleboro.

"I think we started something last time. I think we made some big gains, but we didn't get the job done," said the former U.S. Marine who lives in Norfolk. "We had a lot of people excited in Massachusetts about the race."

If he wins the GOP nomination, Bielat would not face the retiring Frank but might have to face Joseph Kennedy III. Kennedy, the son of former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II and grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, has formed an exploratory committee as a step toward running.

Other announced Democratic candidates in the district that stretches from the Boston suburbs to Fall River include Paul Heroux, an Attleboro businessman; and Herb Robinson, a software engineer from Newton.

Before he takes on the Democratic nominee, Bielat must win the GOP nomination.

Republican Elizabeth Childs of Brookline, a former state mental health commissioner under Mitt Romney, has already announced her intention to run.

Bielat won national Republican attention in 2010 by taking on Frank, a liberal lightning rod, but failed to unseat the incumbent. In the end, Frank prevailed by a nearly 25,000-vote margin.

But after a legislative panel released a newly redrawn congressional district map, which significantly changed Frank's district, the veteran congressman opted not to seek re-election, sparking a scramble for the open seat.

Bielat said the new district is a "fairer playing field" and should be friendlier to a Republican candidate.

He also said he's not worried about running against a Kennedy, if they both make it through their primary contests.

"It definitely is an advantage for him, but it won't be decisive," he said. "The name isn't going to be enough to carry the day."

Democrats quickly dismissed Bielat's candidacy saying the conservative political trends that helped launch his campaign two years ago have shifted.

"With the Tea Party wind in his sails and in the worst national political climate Democrats have known for a generation, Bielat could not convince Massachusetts voters to give him a chance," Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair John Walsh said in a statement Tuesday. "Groundhog Day has come early to Massachusetts."

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