Ex-Rep. Frank on Senate seat: Put me in, governor
BOSTON (AP) — Newly retired Rep. Barney Frank revealed on Friday that he would like to serve as a temporary successor to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the secretary of state nominee.
Frank told The Associated Press that he asked Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint him to serve as the state’s interim senator until a special election is held to fill Kerry’s seat.
Patrick confirmed Friday that he was considering Frank and believed he would make a ‘‘great interim senator,’’ but added that he had talked to other people about the position as well.
‘‘I'm very well suited to do it,’’ Frank said. ‘‘You’re not going to have a long period to get acquainted with things.’’
Frank first disclosed his conversation with the governor on MSNBC’s ‘‘Morning Joe’’ on Friday, one day after his 32-year career in the House ended.
Under state law, the Democratic governor will be required to fill the seat with an interim appointment if the Senate confirms Kerry as secretary of state. The special election would then be scheduled between 145 days and 160 days — about five months — after Kerry’s departure.
In a telephone interview with the AP, Frank said he expected Kerry’s confirmation by the end of the month.
Frank previously had said he didn’t want the appointment. But the 72-year-old Democrat, who served 16 terms and headed the House Financial Services Committee, noted Friday that the fiscal cliff deal that was reached earlier this week to avoid tax cuts on most Americans also means that major spending decisions will be made in next few months.
‘‘I would very much like to be part of deciding those,’’ Frank said.
He called raising the Medicare eligibility age ‘‘a terrible idea,’’ but would support higher Medicare co-payments for the wealthy in addition to increased taxes on Americans earning $250,000 to $450,000 to help fund the entitlement programs.
If nominated, Frank listed other priorities as cutting military spending, ending military operations in Afghanistan and encouraging ‘‘mainstream Republicans to break with the tea party.’’
Patrick has made clear that he planned to choose an interim senator who was not interested in running in the special election. The winner of that race would serve out the remainder of Kerry’s term, which ends after the 2014 election.
The governor said he spoke to Frank on Thursday. He called Frank a ‘‘gifted legislator’’ who was among the possible appointees.
‘‘I think he would be a great interim senator and, like I say, he’s on the list,’’ Patrick said.
Frank said he had no interest in running in the special election.
‘‘I would not under any circumstances. I have no desire to raise money or run,’’ he told The Associated Press.
Michael Dukakis, the former governor and the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, and Victoria Kennedy, widow of the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, have been among other names mentioned as possible interim senators. Patrick said he would keep any other conversations he had with potential appointees confidential, but commented on Frank because the former congressman had gone public with his interest.
Longtime U.S. Rep. Edward Markey has said he plans to run in the special election and several other Democrats have said they are considering becoming candidates if Kerry is confirmed.
‘‘I'm very happy with Ed Markey as the nominee,’’ Frank said.
Former Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, who lost his re-election bid to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, is also weighing another run.
Associated Press writer Bob Salsberg in Boston contributed to this report.