Bielat shifted from Democrat to GOP after move to Mass.

By Laura Paine/Staff Writer Wicked Local Newton Posted Aug 24, 2010 @ 03:17 PM Newton ² Republican congressional candidate Sean Bielat was registered as a Democrat while he resided in New York, but Bielat said the way he votes did not change, just the party affiliation on his Brookline voter registration. ³My family was Democratic,´ Bielat said. ³Over time I felt like the party moved away from me. When I was in the Marine Corps, I came to have a different world view than what the Democratic Party represents on foreign policy and military issues.´ Bielat is running against fellow Republican Earl Sholley in the Fourth Congressional District primary election on Sept. 14. The winner will go up against U.S. Rep Barney Frank, D-Newton, in the November general election. He confirmed that while living in Canandaigua, N.Y., he was registered as a Democrat, which had much to do with how he was raised. He also cited his time at Harvard University¶s John F. Kennedy School of Government as a place where he ³played devil¶s advocate because only one view was represented.´ Bielat said practical experience and working in business allowed him to see what does and does not work in the economy also helped change his views. ³I started voting Republican before I registered Republican,´ he said. ³If I¶m voting this way and thinking this way, why don¶t I register this way? I know that [the information] was intended to hurt me in the primary, but if you look at why Scott Brown won, it¶s because there were a lot of people who were traditionally Democrats who thought the party wasn¶t representing them well and moved over to voting Republican.´ Bielat said he gave small amounts of money to Brown¶s campaign and to John McCain¶s campaign in 2008. Although he had been a page in the House of Representatives for the Democratic Party when he was 16 years old, he said he had ³definitely not´ intended to run for office before he moved to Brookline three years ago. ³I¶ve been interested in politics since I was a page and always thought that someday I might get involved,´ Bielat said. ³I thought it would be when I was older, when we had finished having kids and when I was further in my career. I just think the issues this year are too important and their impacts too long-lasting to let incumbents go unopposed. We need economic growth, longterm fiscal discipline, fewer pieces of massive legislation that no single member of Congress has read in their entirety, and a clear view of our foreign policy and military aims. So I decided to run.´

Harry Gural, spokesman for Frank, said Frank was visiting Fall River on Thursday over a debate on a proposed liquid natural gas terminal. ³From what little I have seen in terms of [Bielat¶s] positions and persona, he seems committed to flexibility,´ said Gural. But Sholley said he had tracked Bielat¶s voter¶s registration to when he had moved to Brookline but had not looked for his New York registration. ³If he was voting Republican, what took him so long?´ Sholley said. ³If they don¶t represent his views or philosophies, why would he continue to be registered as a Democrat unless he thinks it is beneficial for him to be registered as a Democrat?´ Sholley said he believes the country is at a point where people are starting to choose sides, not just on fiscal issues, but on social ones as well. Sholley thinks people will want to know how Bielat labels himself, but he is not concerned about the party affiliation change. Sholley said Bielat¶s shift from Democrat to Republican is going to damage Bielat¶s campaign because ³he has been so inconsistent about describing himself.´ But Sholley said a change in political parties shouldn¶t be held against Bielat. ³I don¶t hold the fact that he was a Democrat against him,´ Sholley said. ³I was raised a Democrat. I wouldn¶t hold that against him, however, I became a Republican a long time ago. I can¶t believe he was a Democrat all these years, until he was 32, with everything happening in this country.´ Bielat is not worried. He referenced the saying, ³If you¶re a conservative when you¶re young you have no heart, but if you¶re a liberal when you¶re old, you don¶t have any sense.´ ³Over time, peoples¶ views evolve and the partisan affiliation can change,´ he said. ³I have worked in politics and campaigns in college and I don¶t hide that. In this district, I think people get it. Ronald Reagan was a Democrat before he was a Republican. There is no shame as you grow and make a shift.´ Laura Paine can be reached at lpaine@cnc.com.
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