Barney Frank says “pick me.”

diceThe news that retiring congressman Barney Frank would be willing to serve as the Governor’s appointee to John Kerry’s vacated Senate seat gives us the first really fun thing to speculate about in the run up to the special election for Kerry’s seat.

What impact would Frank have on the special election campaigns? Would his penchant for making headlines be an asset, distraction, or an anchor on the Democratic nominee? Is there something about the role of a “place holder” that makes a low-profile important? The extremely rare combination of huge political charisma and the absence of electoral ambition make the possibility of “Senator” Barney Frank a real wild card. Frank’s appointment would certainly be a gift to media analysts and pundits.

Unfortunately, with such a wild card possibility it’s very hard to speculate intelligently about how likely Frank is to get the call from Governor Patrick. Serious consideration of Frank’s offer would undoubtedly scramble the Governor’s decision rules quite a bit. We can say with confidence that if there is good reason to keep the appointee out of the line of fire during the special election campaign, Frank’s hopes of ending his career in the upper chamber are doomed.

My guess is that the governor wouldn’t appoint Frank unless the presumptive Democratic nominee envisioned and articulated a positive role for a Senator Frank in the campaign, a judgment that really cannot be made until the relevant context for the special election comes into focus.

About Jerold Duquette

Jerold Duquette is an associate professor of political science at Central Connecticut State University. He is the author of Regulating the National Pastime: Baseball and Antitrust and has published articles and book chapters on campaign finance reform, political parties, Massachusetts politics and political culture, public opinion, and political socialization. Professor Duquette lives in Longmeadow, MA with his wife and four children.
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