Barney Frank Says He’s Interested in Interim Senate Seat

Barney Frank, who just retired from the U.S. House, now would like to serve in the Senate.

Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, told MSNBC yesterday that he asked Governor Deval Patrick, to appoint him to the Senate seat that John Kerry would vacate if confirmed as U.S. secretary of state.

“Coach, put me in,” Frank, 72, said on “Morning Joe.” He would serve only until a special election is held later in the year to fill Kerry’s seat through the 2014 election.

“It’s only a three-month period,” Frank said. “I wouldn’t want to do anything more.”

Patrick told reporters that Frank was “definitely” on a list of potential appointments. He said his preference was to nominate an interim senator who wouldn’t run in the special election. Massachusetts law calls for the election to be held between 145 to 160 days following the vacancy.

“Congressman Frank is a gifted legislator and he would be a great senator even on an interim basis,” Patrick said, according to a transcript released by his office. “There are factors I am considering and he is definitely on the list.”

After serving for 32 years in the House, Frank didn’t seek re-election in November. He said he wanted to return to Capitol Hill to join the debate as Congress and President Barack Obama look for alternatives to automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect March 1. The timetable was pushed back two months under a bill Congress approved this week that averted income-tax increases for most Americans.

‘Important Months’

Obama and Republican lawmakers also are heading toward a confrontation over raising the nation’s debt ceiling. The U.S. reached its $16.4 trillion legal debt limit on Dec. 31, and the Treasury Department began using extraordinary measures to finance the government. It will exhaust that avenue as early as mid-February, the Congressional Budget Office has said.

“February, March, and April are going to be among the most important months in American financial history,” Frank said. “I’ve told the governor I would like, frankly, to do that; I would like to be a part of that,” he said.

Frank is the former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, He co-authored the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act that increased regulation of the banking industry following the 2007-2009 recession.

Markey Candidacy

Democratic Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts announced his candidacy for the Senate seat Dec. 27 and quickly gained the backing of Kerry and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Former Senator Scott Brown, a Republican, is considering running after losing his re-election bid to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in November. Brown won a special election in January 2010 to fill the seat vacated by the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, a Democrat.

Frank was the first openly gay member of the House and would be first openly homosexual male senator. Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay member of the Senate when she was sworn into office this week.

Obama said Dec. 21 he planned to nominate Kerry, the unsuccessful 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, to succeed Hillary Clinton as the top U.S. diplomat.