Friday January 11, 2013 | 02:18 PM

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine is among the progressive voices urging Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick to appoint Barney Frank – Pingree’s former House colleague and a personal friend – to the U.S. Senate.

Frank has been publicly lobbying for Patrick, a Democrat, to appoint him to serve the remainder of U.S. Sen. John Kerry’s term if the full Senate approves Kerry’s nomination for secretary of state, as expected.

An unapologetic liberal and floor speech firebrand, Frank retired earlier this month after more than 30 years in the House. While he has said he would not seek election to the Senate after the term expires, his high-profile campaign for the appointment has reportedly turned off some in his home state – potentially including Patrick, according to this National Journal piece.

Pingree wrote in an opinion piece in The Huffington Post this week that Frank has the political skills needed to help Democrats in the upcoming budget battles over Social Security, Medicare and the national debt limit. Other progressive groups, including and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, are also clamoring for Frank’s appointment.

“As Democrats in Congress, we need to be ready and willing to take on this fight to protect the benefits that our seniors have earned,” Pingree wrote in an blog on the liberal news and opinion site. “We need courage. And conviction. We need Barney Frank.”

Frank has close ties to Maine, Pingree and her husband, billionaire hedge fund manager S. Donald Sussman Sussman who is also a major donor to progressive and Democratic causes.

The first openly gay member of Congress, Frank married Ogunquit resident Jim Ready last summer during a private ceremony in Massachusetts. Both Pingree and Sussman were in attendance.

And Frank and Ready flew to the Virgin Islands for vacation in Sussman’s private jet in late 2009. Frank reported the trip to the House Ethics commission, but it caught the eye of the media and Republican groups because he was, at the time, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Pingree also credits Frank with helping her learn the ropes in Congress after her election in 2008.

“Barney's advice was invaluable to me, a freshman member of Congress. And I know it would be equally invaluable to Elizabeth Warren, as she learns the ropes in Congress,” Pingree wrote in The Huffington Post, referring to the newly elected Massachusetts senator.

Sussman is the majority share owner of MaineToday Media, which publishes The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta, the Morning Sentinel in Waterville and other media outlets in Maine.


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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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