"As a red-state tea partier behind enemy lines here in deep-blue Taxachusetts, I like what you're saying about fiscal responsibility, limited government, free markets and other Contract from America aspirations," we wrote Barney Frank challenger Sean Bielat last week, "So let me skip the 'what' and focus on the 'how.'" Here are the five questions and answers of our email interview with one of the "rising stars in the resurgent Massachusetts Republican party" (Earlier phone interview here):
1. Sissy Willis: How will you win? Your primary opponent Earl Sholley is no doubt unelectable in the general, but could he damage your candidacy with dirty tricks? Please discuss your strategy for winning the September 14 primary.
Sean Bielat: We have a clear path to victory in November. The key is going to be activating supporters and raising the money we need to get our message out. Barney is going to have plenty of funding from the entrenched special interests he protects from his powerful seat in Washington. We have to generate a lot of enthusiasm from regular folks who are fed up with the way Washington works. We're going to make sure to explain that Barney has been a big part of why our economy collapsed in the first place, and why we continue to have trouble creating jobs. From pushing Fannie and Freddie to make bad loans and blocking reform of those companies, to bailing out Wall Street executives and pushing our country deeper into debt, there are a lot of reasons for people to join our campaign to oust Barney from office. We're not overlooking the primary, but by focusing on what we need to do to defeat Barney and making a forceful case that our campaign can win in November, we'll do just fine on September 14th.
2. Sissy: How about the general election? Polls suggest a majority of Massachusetts voters are ready for what I call "term limits by other means," and anecdotally we've all heard stories of life-long Democrats and others who are beginning to wake up to the deleterious effects of the Democrats' big-government power grabs. The Brown Revolution has certainly been an inspiration for fresh new candidates within the Bay State and beyond, but among many of Brown's supporters, his voting record has taken the sheen off the golden boy's image. What is your strategy vis-à-vis Brown to distinguish your own path from the direction his incumbency has taken? Please discuss Brown's influence on your own candidacy and how any past or current association with our junior senator could be a negative.
Sean: It's great that Sen. Brown won the Fourth District. It means that people in the Fourth aren't afraid to support Republicans and that there is a significant number of people out there who are fed up with entrenched politicians who support policies that have a lasting negative effect on our families. But I'm not Scott Brown and we're running our own campaign. For example, I would not have supported the Dodd-Frank Financial Regulation Bill. It's not difficult to find people in and out of state who would like to see Barney Frank head for early retirement. He has been central to many of the problems that caused and exacerbated the economic collapse. We're getting that message far and wide and have been successful attracting volunteers and financial support. We're going to continue to reach out to people seven days a week through social media, mainstream media, events, door-to-door, mail and phone calls.
3. Sissy: Conservatives are energized this year, but even with an army of enthusiastic voters marching to your tune, what about the usual Democrat Machine voter fraud and thuggery — dead voters, hired union goons and such that were in evidence during the Brown/Coakley battle? As with the primary, how will you counter dirty tricks in the general election?
Sean: We are going to have a very aggressive Get Out the Vote effort both for the primary and the general. My belief is that a good ground game will beat party hacks and dirty tricks. We'll have poll watchers and other volunteers monitoring what's going on for us. At the end of the day, whatever dirty tricks are played, it won't have an effect on the outcome.
4. Sissy: How will you raise the funds necessary to be competitive with an opponent some would say is "too big to fail"? In a Huffington Post article published last February you were quoted as saying "If I'm not getting support from outside Massachusetts, it's not going to happen." Please comment on your fundraising strategy and other issues brought up in this excerpt from the article:
"As a powerful chairman, Frank has access to a nearly limitless supply of campaign cash. In the past, Frank has shared that wealth with candidates in tight races. Bielat says he met with the National Republican Congressional Committee this week and pitched his candidacy to them. By the end of the meeting, he says, they were very receptive, and he may end up in the Young Guns program … 'If nothing else, I should get national support so that he has to keep that money in the district.'"
Sean: We're not expecting to beat Barney in fundraising, but we are going to be very competitive. Again, there are a lot of people willing to help and, now that Barney will have his first viable challenger in two decades, I think we have a great opportunity to tap into that. People have a swift and visceral reaction to how out-of-touch Washington is. Barney Frank is in the middle of all that, and people are attracted to a campaign like ours that can win.
5. Sissy: You were quoted in the HuffPo article as saying you have "one key advantage on the campaign trail that most GOP candidates can't count on: Barney Frank." In fact, it was your campaign slogan "RetireBarney.com" that first attracted me and others to your candidacy. As the longest-serving House member of the Massachusetts delegation, Frank has accumulated a political lifetime of egregious "accomplishments," the most significant being, perhaps, his role in facilitating and then covering up the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac scam. His cameo in the Republican Study Committee's rousing campaign video "Those Voices Don't Speak for the Rest of us" says it all: "Give us more power." How will your campaign take advantage of the new media to spread the word?
Sean: We are already making good use of new media platforms and social media to spread the word, fund raise, attract volunteers and supporters, promote events, and learn about new opportunities. I have a great relationship with our Twitter followers and the number of Facebook friends grows by the hundreds each week. There's still no substitute for retail politicking, looking people in the eye, and shaking their hand. But new media has been very effective in getting people to look at our campaign and what we're all about. Building a robust new media campaign is also key to our fundraising strategy. We need national help with fundraising to help level the playing field. Challengers always face an uphill battle, but a national grassroots base can counter some of Barney Frank's advantage.
Several of our readers from within Massachusetts and beyond have told us they'll be supporting Sean. Fellow Bay Stater Teresa of Technicalities has already sent in a check and had this to say in the comments of our recent post "Barney Frank: Politically fat and campaign lazy?":
Oh I shall have to follow on twitter! Now if only we had a contested election out in our neck of the woods and could have a chance to get rid of McGovern. Maybe there is and I've missed it since I've been working so much. But I'm glad to see someone giving Frank a credible challenge! Go Sean! If I could vote for you, I would.
Update: Maggie's links! Thanks, Bird Dog.
Update II: Michelle Malkin links in her August 30 endorsement of Sean:
Boot Barney Frank: Support GOP challenger Sean Bielat