For decades, New Bedford was once a major part of the 4th Congressional district and represented by the incomparable Barney Frank. After the Congressional map was redrawn in 2010, New Bedford was moved to the 9th District. The city has since been very well represented by Congressman Bill Keating, one of the most responsive members of our delegation. The redistricting, however, contributed to Rep. Frank’s retirement, leaving a vacancy that would be filled by Joseph Kennedy III.

Now with Kennedy leaving the House to run for the U.S. Senate, and a wide-open primary for his seat in its closing days, one candidate has brought New Bedford back into the conversation for MA04.

That candidate is Marine and Newton City Councilor Jake Auchincloss. Auchincloss understands that although New Bedford is no longer part of the 4th, it is the hub of economic development for the region.

“New Bedford is not part of the congressional district but it’s part of the mandate for any representative in the Massachusetts 4th," Auchincloss said. “The New Bedford Port and the New Bedford metro economy are both anchors for Southeastern Massachusetts. The port creates about $11 billion and 7,000 jobs. So any member of Congress needs to be linked in not just with the mayor of Fall River and representatives in Taunton, and Attleboro, and Fall River, but also with the mayor of New Bedford and the concerns of New Bedford as well.”

Recently, Auchincloss made a campaign stop in New Bedford at City Pier 3, where he received the endorsement of Mayor Jon Mitchell.

On Wednesday, Auchincloss made a second appearance in the Whaling City, this time on Herman Melville Boulevard at a proposed stop for South Coast Rail. The councilor has made reforming the Commonwealth’s untenable transit infrastructure a key policy point of his campaign, calling for a "21st Century Eisenhower Plan." He was once again joined by Mayor Mitchell, who reaffirmed his support for Auchincloss and his approach to regional economic development.

“In this race, he is talking about what really matters, and what really matters throwing open the doors of opportunity to everybody," Mitchell said. “Everybody in his district. Every corner of his district including those parts of his district that are right here in Greater New Bedford.”

Also in attendance was Ranch Kimball, a Massachusetts Port Authority board member under Governor Deval Patrick, who offered similar praise.

“Jake talks a lot about building jobs and supporting the economy in the entire district," Kimball said. “He’s got practical plans for helping grow jobs in the SouthCoast area and he recognizes that as the economy starts to come back from COVID, businesses of all sizes are going to need to interact with the federal government and need help and support on a lot of issues.”

New Bedford was just the first stop on Auchincloss’ SouthCoast swing on Wednesday which included stops in Fall River and Taunton. While some may think it peculiar to make an out-of-district stop this close to election day, Auchincloss' New Bedford visits are a recognition of the city’s role as the heartbeat of Southeastern Massachusetts and demonstrates a holistic understanding of the region’s economy.

Marcus Ferro is an attorney practicing in New Bedford and a weekly contributor to The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM. Contact him at The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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