Politics & Policy

Barney Frank: Tight-Fisted in ’10

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about how the GOP’s impressive candidate recruiting efforts this cycle were starting to pay dividends:

The GOP’s recruiting success has turned out to be an effective counter to the Democrats’ fundraising advantage, which currently sits at about $14 million. By running quality candidates in what have been safe Democratic districts, the GOP has forced incumbent Democrats to defend themselves more rigorously than they are used to doing. This has, according a House GOP aide, created a class of frightened Democrats who, faced with a legitimate Republican challenger, are forced to devote more time, effort, and money to their own campaigns, and less to helping their fellow party members. “They get nervous and they have to go home and campaign and mobilize their volunteers and spend money,” the aide said. “When they’re doing that, they’re not giving money to the national party or helping other congressmen.”

One of those frightened Democrats is Rep. Barney Frank, who looks unusually vulnerable this year, thanks to a strong challenger in Republican Sean Bielat, a businessman and former Marine. Frank, who is used to winning by lopsided-margins, remains strongly favored but this time he may actually have to fight to keep his seat. President Clinton, perhaps the most formidable weapons in Democrats’ campaign arsenal, was called up to Massachusetts last month to campaign for the nearly 30-year incumbent. Since Frank has had to focus on his own reelection campaign, he’s had less time — and a lot less spare cash — for his fellow Democrats. The Wall Street Journal reports:

So far this election, Mr. Frank has dipped into his personal re-election account to donate just $35,000 to 12 Democratic candidates, according to campaign-finance figures compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, a fraction of his largesse two years ago, when he gave $248,000 to 86 candidates. This year, he has given $250,000 to the campaign arm of House Democrats, compared with $650,000 in 2008.

The comparison — like most involving Dems this year and Dems in ‘08 — is stunning. Even if Frank is likely to retain his seat, his diminished capacity to help his own party is certainly a victory for Republicans.

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...

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