Barney Frank broke somewhat with traditional political decorum — such as that is — with his public pitch to fill the Massachusetts Senate seat that will come open upon Democrat John Kerry’s expected confirmation by his colleagues as secretary of state.
“Coach, put me in,” Frank memorably said last week on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show, confirming that he has asked Gov. Deval Patrick to make him the interim appointee until a special election is held later this year to fill Kerry’s seat through the 2014 election.
Frank’s cause now is getting some active public support, courtesy of a petition drive started yesterday by Norfolk, Massachusetts, resident John F. Kelley, 63.
Upon hearing of Frank’s desire to follow his 32-year House career with a brief Senate stint, Kelley told us today that he thought to himself, “There’s got to be something we can do here” to help make that happen.
So, as a member of the MoveOn.org liberal advocacy group, Kelley launched his petition effort through the group’s online platform, SignOn.org. That means the petition will be sent to all Massachusetts MoveOn members, Kelley said. He also posted his pro-Frank push on his Facebook page.
Kelley, a semi-retired telecom executive, said his effort had garnered about 5,000 signatures as of this afternoon.
Although Kelley was never directly represented by Frank, 72, he said, “I’ve always admired” the lawmaker and believes his experience will come in handy as the new Congress grapples with a raft of fiscal issues. Frank, as chairman a few years back of the House Financial Services Committee, co-authored the bill tightening regulation of the banking industry.
Kelley also is looking for the notoriously pugnacious Frank to offer an effective counter to Republican efforts to cut and privatize programs such as Social Security and Medicare in the debate on reducing the federal deficit.
“I think that’s wrong,” Kelley says flatly.
Patrick’s office had no reaction when asked for comment on the petition drive.
And, of course, it’s technically a moot matter until Kerry actually resigns his seat, which won’t happen until he wins confirmation. Given the snail’s pace with which Congress these days approaches even pressing concerns, Kelley can likely count on an extended period to gather signatures.