Sitting in the crosshairs of the Tea Party Express and other conservative operations, longtime Democratic Rep. Barney Frank is ratcheting up his efforts to defend his Massachusetts seat.
The Democrat gave his re-election campaign $200,000 this week, Politico reports, to fend off Republican challenger Sean Bielat. Financial disclosure files reportedly showed Frank's assets to be worth between $560,000 and $1.5 million, though the representative is not required to disclose the worth of his primary residence.
Bielat, a 35-year-old Marine with an Ivy League pedigree, is giving Frank a run for his money. The Republican released an internal poll last month showing Frank ahead by 10 points, 48 to 38. While that still gives Frank a comfortable lead -- CBS News has labeled the race as probable Democrat -- he cannot take his seat for granted. Even though Massachusetts' fourth district easily sided with Barack Obama in 2008, it also narrowly favored Republican Scott Brown in the 2010 Senate special election.
Bielat has railed against Frank's role as chair of the House Financial Services Committee, and his attacked are buttressed by those from the Tea Party Express, the California-based group that helped Christine O'Donnell win the Republican Senate primary in Connecticut and helped conservative Joe Miller topple sitting Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Alaska primary.
The Tea Party Express sent an "urgent" e-mail to their supporters this week soliciting donations to air its "defeat Barney Frank" television ads, now in production.
The conservative Nevada political action committee Western Representation PAC is also investing in a campaign against Frank, with a pledge to spend $200,000 in ads against Frank and his fellow Massachusetts Democratic Rep. James McGovern, the Attleboro Sun Chroniclereports.
Meanwhile, the anti-abortion rights group the Susan B. Anthony List is also campaigning against the 15-term Democrat. As part of a $1 million nationwide mail campaign, the group sent Frank's constituents pamphlets that said he "votes 'NO' on Massachusetts values."
Frank used the pamphlets to solicit money from his supporters in a e-mail with the subject line "Pro-choice or no choice?" The e-mail blasts Bielat for being against abortion rights. It also mentions his opponent's Tea Party support.
"I take these developments extremely seriously, not only because of the threat to my candidacy, but because of the dangers they pose to the values we share," the e-mail reads. "You can help me prevent the right-wing from turning back the clock on reproductive rights."
Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com. You can read more of her posts here. Follow Hotsheet on Facebook and Twitter.