By Carole on Nov 28, 2011
In January of 2010, then-Senators Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) and Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota) announced they would not be seeking re-election that year. The New York Times reported on the sudden retirements saying they "signaled that President Obama is facing a perilous political environment that could hold major implications for this year's midterm elections and his own agenda." We now refer to those major implications as what Mr. Obama himself called the "shellacking" of his party in those elections. Does today's announcement that 16-term Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) will not seek re-election send a similar signal about 2012?
At a news conference this afternoon, Mr. Frank said his decision was partially due to his state's new district map which will include many people he has never represented before. But an uphill battle for re-election in 2012 is not limited to those Democrats facing redistricting.
Representative Frank's decision makes him the 17th House Democrat to announce his retirement during this election cycle compared to just 7 Republicans. It's worth noting that all of those Republicans are running for higher positions while 9 of the 17 Democrats are simply retiring.
It's understandable why many who have spent the last three years supporting the Obama economic agenda would not want to have to publicly defend its dismal results. As the top Democrat on the powerful House Financial Services Committee, Mr. Frank would have had an especially tough campaign ahead of him. The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill passed in 2010 and strongly supported by the Obama administration has become an important issue in the 2012 presidential campaign and current GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich has suggested both Mr. Frank and Mr. Dodd be jailed for their support of the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the lead up to the financial crisis.
While he may or may not deserve a prison term, Barney Frank definitely does not deserve another term in Congress. And with today's announcement he has demonstrated that even he knows that.
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