Skip to comments.INTERVIEW: Sean Bielat Says He’ll Make 2012 Campaign Decision ‘Next Week’
Posted on 12/01/2011 11:34:53 PM PST by MitchellC
In 2010, Republican Sean Bielat gave Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank the toughest re-election challenge the Democrat had ever experienced. Although Bielats insurgent Tea Party-backed campaign fell short of unseating Frank, it was obviously a factor in the 16-term congressmans decision this week to retire at the end of his current term, rather than seek re-election in a newly redrawn district. Thursday night, Bielat spoke to me in a brief telephone interview.
Robert Stacy McCain: So, this is the week of Bye Bye Barney. How are you feeling right now?
Sean Bielat: [Laughs.] Well, you know, if you would have asked me a year ago at this time, I would have said that this was exactly what was going to happen. And then, you know, when he came out February and said, Im definitely running . . . definitely going to be back in this thing, I took it with a grain of salt, but I believed it. So he definitely caught me off-guard [by announcing his retirement Monday].
RSM: Hes saying that its mainly about the re-districting. Have you taken a good look at that map?
BIELAT: Yeah, I have. It is a much better district.
RSM: You mean, for a Republican?
BIELAT: Yeah. Its still overwhelmingly Democrat, but its a much better district than before. But implicit in that comment its because of re-districting is the fact that he thinks hes going to have a competitive opponent, right? Because hes been re-districted before and not retired. The difference is, he had a challenge last time. Now its a new district and I think he just wasnt sure hed make it through and it wasnt worth the effort.
RSM: OK. And are you taking a victory lap? I mean, do you believe that your challenge last year convinced him that it was time to pack it in?
BIELAT: Im also taking that with a grain of salt. I dont think he would have retired if I hadnt run against him, but I also dont think hes retiring because I did. He, on Election Day [in 2010], thought he was going to lose. We were told that by a number of the reporters who were following him and who were in his van they thought they were going to lose. And you saw he put a couple hundred thousand dollars of his own money it, you know. I dont think he enjoyed this experience. He hadnt really done this since 1982. I dont think he enjoyed the eight debates. I think he was worn out. And I think he didnt want to do it again, particularly if the district was going to be more favorable to his opponent.
RSM: And is there a chance that that opponent might be you?
BIELAT: [Laughs.] Well, theres no chance it will be me against Barney, but theres definitely a chance that it will be me against whatever Democrat theyre going to put up in the Fourth [District]. Im looking very hard at it. Poltically, I think it makes a lot of sense. Were just trying to figure out personally if its what we want right now, with the new baby and the other 15-month-old and, you know, the sacrifices involved in running. But Im definitely very interested in it.
RSM: Youve got two children?
BIELAT: Yeah, we just had the second one about two-and-a-half weeks ago.
RSM: Wow. And I understand that you were spending some time in Pennsylvania and some people were trying to lay the carpetbagger thing on you.
BIELAT: Yeah, I think its tough to do when we only came [to Pennysylvania] in September and the reason I came was because we had family in the area and we had some difficulties the last time around, with the last pregnancy. So we wanted to be here in case that happened again. Were planning to go back [to Massachusetts] after the holidays. Hope is still a student at Boston University. She took the semester off. Shell be back in the spring semester. . . . Its just the circumstance we wanted to be near family because of the baby.
RSM: OK, and last time around, the Internet fundraising and the support of New Media seemed to really kick your campaign into high gear.
BIELAT: Oh, without a doubt. I mean, one of the most important people for me to get back on the team is [New Media consultant] John La Rosa. I mean, our money came from online. Fox News was huge, too. Every time we went on Fox News, the money would come in, too. But it was because the groundwork was there, because went on the blogs. It was all over the Internet the Tweets were out there, and Facebook was useful as well. So it was huge, and then there was the Dancing Barney video [by filmmaker Ladd Ehlinger Jr.] and the incident with [Barney Franks] significant other, where he was heckling me that was huge. I cant tell you how many people came up to me about that, or said, I sent you a contribution after I saw that. That wouldnt have gotten out there without the New Media channels.
RSM: So that really made a difference. What would be the timetable, if you did decide to run? When would you be thinking about putting something together again?
BIELAT: I want to make a decision next week. You know theres a number of other Republicans who are calling me to find out my plans, because if Im not getting in, they may want to get in. So I certainly dont want to slow them down and, you know, I dont want to be in limbo myself. If I end up not doing this, Im going to be working on the [political action committee] Id like to kick that off and start doing some good there. So I want to make this decision fairly soon.
RSM: OK, so you say, within a week?
BIELAT: Yeah. Thats the plan.
RSM: Wow. OK, then. So if were going to be scrambling the jets, were going to be scrambling the jets in a pretty quick hurry here.
BIELAT: Yeah. I mean, if Im going to get in, I want to raise money this quarter. And if Im going to raise money in December, when the holidays are coming up, Ive got to do it right at the beginning. So that means making my decision right away.
How long of a long shot?
He would make a good candidate. He almost knocked out Barney’s Frank in a district custom tailored for him. Now the district is far more Republican. Since he has good name recognition, he should do alright.
I hear they are going to try and jam another Kennedy in there on the Rat side. I think folks have had enough of them since Teddy died.
I bet Barney was told to leave before the 2012 election. They probably told him he was done.
If anyone wants to know some interesting info about “The Other McCain. Drop me a message via private message. I’ve got a few things to tell.
In the old MA-04, President Bush got 33% in 2004, McCain got 35% in 2008 and Scott Brown got 50%-51% in 2010. Under the new lines, I read that Bush and McCain got 38% and 39%, respectively (IIRC) in 2004 and 2008, and that Scott Brown got around 55% in 2010. Since the new MA-04 is around 5% less Democrat than before, we can estimate that Frank’s 53%-43% victory over Bielat from 2010 would become a 48%-48% dead heat. And, of course, it won’t be Barney Frank running this time, which cuts in both directions, but in a slightly Dem-leaning district I’d rather run against someone who doesn’t have 100% name ID and hasn’t been bringing pork into the region for three decades.
So this race should be competitive, and will depend in great measure on (i) who the Dem and GOP candidates are and (ii) how much buyers remorse voters in the district have regarding Obama. Bielat is probably our strongest candidate given the skills he showed in 2010, and he should be helped by Scott Brown being on the ballot; and Bielat is one of the few Republican congressional candidates nationwide who would probably benefit from Mitt Romney being the GOP presidential nominee (which, even with Newt’s recent rise, still has at least 50% probability of occurring).
So I think we’ve got a real chance of winning. While it is true that, since 2002, and excluding Cao’s fluke win against an indicted Bill Jefferson in LA-02 in a 2008 run-off, the most Democratic CDs to elect a Republican to Congress were about 6% more Republican (based on the 2004 presidential vote) than the redrawn MA-04 (Leach’s IA-02 and Simmons’s CT-02 in 2002 and 2004), I think that the MA-04 isn’t quite as Democrat as Bush-Kerry numbers would lead one to believe and, for once, the trend is our friend is Massachusetts.
you got the info. You never revealed what state you live in on your profile page. Are you MASS?
I live in Puerto Rico, not Massachusetts. So, no, I won’t be able to join you campaigning door-to-door in Bielat’s district.
fat chance for me in Bielat.
Instead, I might do something in new #2 vs McGovern. Greenfield ... the valley radical hippie town area.
I think McGovern’s new CD is a bit more Dem than his old MA-03. Dem redistricters don’t have to work very hard in MA to draw Dem-leaning CDs; they can basically throw a dart at the map and expand from there, and no matter where the dart lands they’ll have a CD that gave Kerry and Obama at least 55% of the vote.
i guess the interest in CD#2 MA is the small town nature means there ain’t no DEM city machine and the right candidate can at least go into the small towns and get a personal following. At least it seemed fun once.
Isn’t Worcester still in McGovern’s CD? Not a large city by any means, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t have a Dem machine.
But the biggest problem will be all those liberals from the old MA-01 added to the district. You’ll sure have your work cut out for you. And if we can’t get a good candidate to run (McGovern hasn’t faced a strong challenge in years), I don’t think the election will be competitive. If you’re interested in volunteering for a competitive contest and the McGovern race looks to be one-sided, the Frank, Tierney and Keating districts should all be more competitive (and Frank’s redrawn CD has areas that are probably as close to your home as McGovern’s CD).
yeah, I got the map.
I’m not getting seriously involved. Just gonna show up a bit next summer to get out of town into the country. Jay Fleitman would be the guy to run against McGovern.
Waiting to see how CT-5 is redrawn. Open seat. I am supporting conservative, constitutionalist, prolife Mark Greenberg. But I promise that I will just dabble in it. I ain’t into joining big efforts and going all out.
I have wearied of all the vile people that get attracted to campaigns and all the other people who refuse to lift a finger and bark at ya. peeple are ingrates and pigs.
” I think that the MA-04 isnt quite as Democrat as Bush-Kerry numbers would lead one to believe and, for once, the trend is our friend is Massachusetts.”
Good analysis. Thanks.
What’s the skinny on the 6th (Hudak running again?) and the 9th (former 10th)? Any shot in those?
not taking MA seriously.
they say 3 6 9 could be good along with Barney’s.
I have no idea.
Oh crap, that fruity RINO Tisei is running in the 6th.
What a treat.
Show him that picture and he may turn straight. ;p
Yep, he’s a “loud and proud” rump ranger.
Frank Reynolds - I love that show!