October 1, 2010

THERE ARE NO SAFE SEATS:

A GOP unknown is in striking range of Barney Frank (Byron York, October 1, 2010, DC Examiner)

[Sean] Bielat is 35 years old, a Marine who spent four years on active duty and is now a major in the Reserve. He's a graduate of Georgetown University with a master's from Harvard and an MBA from Wharton. He's devoted a good portion of his professional life to manufacturing the high-tech robots that defuse improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan. In other words, he's a serious man.

In the spring and summer of 2009, Bielat watched in dismay as Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress pursued one big-government initiative after another. He began to think about running but didn't make a final decision until Jan. 19, when a certain Republican won election to the Senate from Massachusetts -- and did it by winning in Frank's district. "When Scott Brown won the 4th Congressional District, it became clear that not only could a Republican win here," says Bielat, "but there was a case to be made nationally to donors and supporters that this is winnable."

National support is key, Bielat believes, given that his opponent is chairman of one of the most powerful committees on Capitol Hill and can raise virtually all the money he wants. But Frank is also one of those liberal Democrats who conservative Republicans love to hate. If GOP donors across the country think there's a chance to beat him, they'll start giving. So far, support has been steady but not overwhelming. Bielat has raised about $600,000; Frank has pulled in many times that.

Bielat is a relative newcomer to the 4th District. He grew up around Rochester, N.Y., and in addition to his military service has worked or gone to school in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia before settling in the district in 2007. Given that, it's not a surprise that a poll taken by his campaign in mid-September found that 43 percent of voters have never heard of Bielat. Everyone -- literally everyone -- knows Frank.

But Bielat is still heartened by the poll's main finding, which shows him trailing Frank by just 10 points.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 1, 2010 6:09 AM
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