Ten Little Congressmen . . .

The outlook for each of Mass.'s Representatives
By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  November 17, 2010

Top row, from left: Keating, Tsongas, Capuano, Lynch, McGovern. Bottom row, from left: Neal, Tierney, Frank, Markey, Olver

Each of Massachusetts's 10 congressmen — soon to be nine, following next year's redistricting — are looking at the House shakeup from their own career perspectives. They fall generally into three categories: the newbies, who have few options; the up-and-comers, who can either hold out for Democrats to regain the majority, or look toward the next phase of their careers; and the veterans, who may be wondering whether to simply call it quits.

BILL KEATING (10TH DISTRICT) Just elected to fill Bill Delahunt's seat, Keating is just looking to ensure re-election in two years — when he may face a less troubled opponent than Jeff Perry. That means securing good committee assignments, where he can advocate for the industries and interests of the South Coast and Cape Cod. He'll also be hoping that redistricting adds more of Norfolk County, where he was district attorney, to balance against the more conservative-leaning voters in Plymouth County and the Cape.

NIKI TSONGAS (FIFTH DISTRICT) Tsongas has proven remarkably resilient since winning a special election in 2007 — she dispatched Republican challenger Jon Golnik this year by a 13-point margin. The shake-out of Democrats moves her up in seniority, particularly on the Armed Services and Budget committees, giving her added clout whenever her party regains the majority.

MICHAEL CAPUANO (EIGHTH DISTRICT) Insiders say Capuano didn't enjoy being in the minority before, and that he can't be thrilled about facing the prospect again. Most close observers believe Capuano will give up his seat to take a second run for Senate in 2012.

STEPHEN LYNCH (NINTH DISTRICT) Lynch got on the bad side of Pelosi and House liberals last session (chiefly by refusing to vote for health-care reform), and then saw most of his moderate Democratic colleagues voted out of office — leaving him somewhat stranded and powerless, albeit apparently invincible in his district. Most observers believe Lynch will leave Congress to run for Senate in 2012.

JAMES MCGOVERN (THIRD DISTRICT) McGovern is next in line among Democrats to head the powerful Rules Committee, and that's a strong reason to stick around — especially since the member ahead of him, Louise Slaughter, is 81 years old.

RICHARD NEAL (SECOND DISTRICT) Had the Democrats retained control, Neal was probably going to chair the House Ways and Means Committee next year — a position in transition since Pelosi stripped ethics-challenged Charlie Rangel of the chair. So, like McGovern, Neal will stick around waiting for his plum.

JOHN TIERNEY (SIXTH DISTRICT) Embarrassing revelations relating to his wife's brother might have cost Tierney the election, had he faced a tougher opponent than Bill Hudak. He survived, but will probably go up against a more formidable foe next time. Some insiders say that although Tierney thinks he has survived the storm, this is probably his final term.

BARNEY FRANK (FOURTH DISTRICT) Although Sean Bielat gave Frank the toughest challenge he's faced in decades, some observers believe that he's now safe — just as Ted Kennedy never had a serious challenge after beating Mitt Romney in 1994. The question is whether Frank, age 70 and very much set in his ways, can handle watching Republicans he considers morons do the job he believes is his. Many insiders expect him to retire in 2012 — one Democratic operative refers to Frank's petulant, ungrateful election-night victory speech as the kickoff of the Barney Frank "Fuck You" Farewell Tour.

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Related: Minority Blues, Boston's last congressman?, Barney's Big Surprise, More more >
  Topics: Talking Politics , Massachusetts, Democrats, Barney Frank,  More more >
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