Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., the longest-serving openly gay member of Congress, confirmed at a press conference this afternoon that he won’t seek re-election in 2012.
Frank said he decided to retire in part because he would have faced a tough campaign next year after his district was redrawn to include more conservative areas. Frank said the district would be almost half new.
“If I were to run again, I would be engaged full-fledged in a campaign, which is entirely appropriate — nobody ought to expect to get re-elected without a contest — but the fact that it is so new makes it harder, in terms of learning about new areas, introducing myself to new people.”
Frank also took a jab at former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who has climbed to the top of GOP presidential polls.
“I did not think I had lived a good enough life to be rewarded by Newt Gingrich being the Republican nominee. It still is unlikely, but I have hopes,” Frank said.
“I look forward to debating, to take one important example, the Defense of Marriage Act with Mr. Gingrich,” Frank said. “I think he is an ideal opponent for us when we talk about who it is that is threatening the sanctity of marriage. … He would be the best thing to happen to the Democratic Party since Barry Goldwater.”
Watch a clip of Frank’s comments about Gingrich above.
Below are reactions to Frank’s retirement from President Barack Obama and others.