A native of Rochester, N.Y., Mr. Bielat caught the "political bug" as a teenager, when he did a stint as a House page. After earning a master's in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, he went to work as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. and an executive for iRobot Corp., a defense contractor based in Bedford, Mass. He's also a new father; his wife gave birth to their son, Theodore, over the summer.
Before Harvard, Mr. Bielat served four years as an officer in the Marines. He's still a major in the reserves, but he left active duty in 2002 and hasn't served in combat. I ask if that is a source of regret, and he says yes: "I disagreed with us going into Iraq, but all my Marines were there, all my friends were there. I wanted to be there. Instead I was sitting at Harvard, watching it on TV."
Mr. Bielat's varied résumé is quite a contrast with that of Mr. Frank, who is twice the challenger's age yet has spent more than half his adult life in Congress. "Of his 45 years of work experience, 44 have been either in political office or working for somebody in political office," Mr. Bielat says of the incumbent. "The other one was teaching at the Harvard Kennedy School." (No, Mr. Bielat did not have the congressman as a professor.)
Can he win? In a district that gave 63% of its vote to Barack Obama, Mr. Frank has to be reckoned the heavy favorite. But Mr. Bielat's quest does not look quite as quixotic as it did last October, when he quit his job at iRobot to pursue it.