After more than three decades serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., will not seek re-election in 2012. Frank became the first House representative to openly acknowledge he was gay in 1987. First elected in 1980, he went on to become one of the most influential Democrats in the House.
Frank faced a tough election in 2010 to Tea Party favorite Sean Bielat and said he was not looking forward to another battle.
“It would have been a rough campaign and I don’t like raising money,” Frank said during a press conference.
While he said he doesn’t have plans for the future, he took a shot at GOP presidential hopeful, Newt Gingrich, saying, “I will neither be a lobbyist nor a historian.”
Gingrich recently launched his campaign into a high public view after he called for the arrest of Frank for his involvement with Freddie Mac only to have revealed that he worked as a “historian” for the mortgage giant.
During his 16 terms, Frank emerged as a cankerous liberal who freely spoke his mind. His no-nonsense approach to government led him to become a fierce advocate for queer issues as well as financial regulations.
President Barack Obama said the loss of Frank will impact the Democratic Party and the country.
“This country has never had a congressman like Barney Frank, and the House of Representatives will not be the same without him,” Obama said in a statement. “For over 30 years, Barney has been a fierce advocate for the people of Massachusetts and Americans everywhere who needed a voice. He has worked tirelessly on behalf of families and businesses and helped make housing more affordable. He has stood up for the rights of LGBT Americans and fought to end discrimination against them. And it is only thanks to his leadership that we were able to pass the most sweeping financial reform in history designed to protect consumers and prevent the kind of excessive risk-taking that led to the financial crisis from ever happening again.”
Frank, 71, was raised in Bayonne, N.J., and attended Harvard University and Harvard Law School, where he later taught. He was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1972. He faced his first scandal after coming out when it was discovered that his live-in boyfriend had operated a prostitute service from his home. Frank was reprimanded for the incident.