Dear Governor Patrick,

Media tea leaves suggest the odds are long that you will act on former Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank's suggestion to appoint him to fill the temporary vacancy that will result when Senator John Kerry's appointment as secretary of state is confirmed, as it is expected to be.

That would be a shame, a missed opportunity.

There is no doubt that at times Frank can be a royal pain in the ass, and his ego is as big as the federal deficit.

But he is not a wild card, as some professional whispers have been suggesting.

In his 32 years as a Democratic congressman, Frank has proven himself to be a disciplined and focused politician. Within the Massachusetts delegation, he has demonstrated an ability to be able to work with his more-conservative cohorts.

For example, South Shore congressman Steven Lynch, by Bay State standards a social conservative, credits Frank with opening his eyes to the justice and necessity of a whole range of a gay-rights issues.

Likewise, Frank enjoyed a productive working relationship with ex-senator Scott Brown, who may well be the Republican candidate to fill Kerry's seat.

There have been rumblings that it would not be optimal to have Frank temporarily occupying the Senate seat that fellow Democrat Ed Markey is expected to declare for, because of a reported lack of human warmth between Frank and Markey.

In the words of Vice President Joe Biden, that's "malarkey."

Sure, tension exists. Frank was pissed that Markey wouldn't allow a more favorable remapping of congressional districts, and that led Frank, at age 71, to decide not to seek re-election.

That's political life, and Frank and Markey know it. You have a lot of big egos coexisting with each other down in Washington. Always have, always will.

If Markey is indeed the Democratic candidate to succeed Kerry, then it is nothing short of a blood libel to suggest Frank would be anything other than 100 percent committed to seeing Markey win election.

Above all else, Frank is a pro.

It is Frank's professionalism that recommends him for this interim appointment.

Whomever you choose to fill Kerry's seat will serve for about 145 days — maybe a week or two more or less.

The next few months are going to be damned important ones.

With major battles over government spending, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security on the horizon, Democrats in the Senate could use more than a safe vote.

Frank is the equal of anyone in the Senate when it comes to matters of taxation and fiscal policy.

Frank's brains, policy expertise, and media savvy would well serve the nation and Massachusetts.

Governor, you rode into office as a maverick. Don't forget your roots, your heritage.

Play-it-safe Democrats might prefer someone without Frank's fire and passion.

Be bold. Go with Barney.


The Phoenix

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  Topics: The Editorial Page , Deval Patrick, Barney Frank
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