The Cook Political Report yesterday released 15 new House race rating changes (subscription required), including shifting the race in Virginia between Democratic incumbent Gerry Connolly and Republican Keith Fimian to a toss up. Additionally, Georgia Blue Dog Democrat Jim Marshall's race against Republican Austin Scott was changed from a toss up to leaning Republican.
But in Massachusetts's Fourth Congressional District, the race between Barney Frank and Republican upstart Sean Bielat has moved from "Likely Democrat" to "Lean Democrat." Here's the Cook analysis:
Very few 30-year incumbents release a poll one day showing them leading 56 percent to 37 percent, then take $200,000 out of their retirement plan to fund their race. Then again, very few incumbents are Barney Frank. Multiple media polls taken since then have shown the Financial Services chairman under 50 percent, including a Boston Globe survey showing Frank leading Marine Corps Reservist Sean Bielat 46 percent to 33 percent, with a high number of undecided independents. That makes some sense after Frank has endured a rough spate of press, including his camera-wielding partner's awkward confrontation of Bielat.
Bielat has raised an astounding $600,000 in the first two weeks of October (more than his campaign had raised the whole year prior). Obviously the cash is mostly flooding in from outside the district, but it means Bielat has the resources to play David versus Frank's Goliath on the airwaves in the final week. One ad set to steel drums intones, "While you were worried about your job or mortgage, Barney Frank was on his way to the islands on a private jet owned by a Wall Street fat cat who got millions in bailouts." This is an extremely Democratic district, and Frank is still the favorite, but it's a race.
Ros Krasny at Reuters says Frank is in danger because of his ties to the bank bailout of 2008 and the promotion of the subprime mortgage industry. Krasny quotes Boston College professor Marc Landy, who says that many believe Frank is the "personification of the cozy relationship between the government and irresponsible finance."