Rep. Barney Frank, one of the most influential liberal lawmakers of his generation, announced he is not seeking a 17th term in Congress next year, in large part due to congressional redistricting in his home state of Massachusetts.
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Frank, first elected in 1980, serves as the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. During a four-year stint as chairman of the panel, he helped shepherd the Dodd-Frank overhaul of the nation's financial regulations.
Frank said he had stayed in Congress to battle against conservative Republican forces who wanted to gut the financial reforms. He decided last year "to make this my last term," but was announcing his decision early to let others in the state know that his seat will be in play.
He also said he wanted to finish a long overdue thesis at Harvard University. "I'm easily distracted," he told a news conference in Newton, Mass.
Also citing a long and often stressful career in Congress facing financial crises, Frank said, "Then the congressional redistricting came."
He won a closer-than-expected re-election bid in 2010, taking 53 percent of the vote against Republican Sean Bielat, his lowest total since first winning his Newton- and Tauton-based district in 1980. Frank said redistricting played a major role in his decision not to run again. The new lines of the Massachusetts map kept his seat solidly Democratic but Frank lost several Democratic strongholds near his home in the process.
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