At BlogCon I had a quick chat with Sean Bielat, a businessman and Marine Corps reservist who in 2010 ran against Barney Frank and garnered a larger share of the vote than any Republican running against Frank since 1980.
Unfortunately, that largest share of the vote was 43 percent. But Frank announced his retirement last November, and Bielat is now running in an open-seat race, in a district that is considered more GOP-friendly under its new district lines. He faces off with Dr. Elizabeth Childs in the Republican primary, and then, if victorious, would take on Joseph Kennedy III in November.
NRO: Not running against Barney Frank, does this make your job easier or harder? Now that you don’t have this very vivid character to run against . . .
Bielat: There are pluses and minuses. With Kennedy, I don’t have all the baggage that Frank had to run against. I don’t have 30 years of voting history and the different stances on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
But, on the other hand, I also won’t be running against 30 years of constituent service. I met a lot of Republicans who told me, “I may not like the guy, but he helped my sister.” He helped out the fishing community, which is a big part of my district. But also compared to 2010, I have a much better district [in partisan balance under redistricting]. So it’s six of one, a half-dozen of the other.
NRO: Are you finding more or less enthusiasm amongst conservatives to knock out some Kennedy offspring as opposed to knocking out Barney Frank?
Bielat: With Frank, there were some people who disliked him for the wrong reasons, and a lot of people who disliked him for the right reasons. With this guy [Kennedy], there’s a strong sense that nobody should inherit a seat — this is America, you should be judged on your own merits.
NRO: Particularly after Scott Brown’s famous line from the Senate race that it was wasn’t “the Kennedy seat” but “the people’s seat.”
Bielat: Absolutely. And this is a 50–50 district. Scott Brown’s old state-senate district is within this district.
NRO: Facing a November election, you’ll have the president at the top of the Democratic ticket, probably going to win Massachusetts by a healthy amount—
Bielat: Actually, the data we have suggests it’s going to be a lot closer. I’m not saying Romney’s going to win, but that it’s going to be a lot closer than everyone thinks. You know that Obama got booed today at Fenway [Park in Boston], right?
NRO: You’re sure the boos were for Obama and not for the Red Sox performance?
Bielat: [laughs] Let’s just say [the presidential race in Massachusetts] is looking a lot closer than everyone would expect.
NRO: You also have the Senate race driving turnout. I’m sure the negative ads are starting early. I was impressed to see Scott Brown unveiling his “doggie-blog.” Spectacular timing. When will you be adding your dog-ownership story to the race?
Bielat: I was at the kickoff of the Boston Marathon, which starts in my district. I went up to this lady, she saw my dog, and she said, “You’ve got my vote.” So there’s something powerful there, and that was before this whole story.
NRO: Between Romney being from Massachusetts and the Scott Brown–Elizabeth Warren race, there’s probably not been such a Massachusetts-centered election cycle in a long while.
Bielat: Scott Brown’s state-senate district is in this congressional district. He was elected six times. That’s good for my turnout. Romney, Brown, me — that’s a good ticket.