The most closely watched congressional race in Massachusetts is being fought in the Sixth District, on Boston's North Shore, between Democratic incumbent John Tierney and his Republican challenger Richard Tisei. Experts say it is the only congressional contest in the state that could be an upset, with the GOP rival besting the Democrat.
Tierney has only himself to blame. His campaign has failed to adequately address concerns arising out of his wife Patrice's guilty plea two years ago to federal tax charges connected with work she did for her brother's Antigua-based offshore gambling business.
This would be an uncomfortable situation in any family, but for a high elected official such as Tierney, it could spell the end of his political career — despite his stellar record of representing his constituents. And Tisei has successfully made the episode the centerpiece of his campaign against Tierney.
Patrice entered her guilty plea one month before Tierney was handily re-elected in 2010. She subsequently served a month in prison. Federal prosecutors never implicated Tierney in either the case against Patrice, or the action against her brother. Given the zealous, even fanatical, dedication that the US Department of Justice exhibits in pursuing targets, especially those suspected of political wrongdoing, it is reasonable to assume that prosecutors had nothing on Tierney.
Tierney has been a stalwart champion of working families and the middle class. He is a strong supporter of the whole range of important women's issues, especially the right to choose abortion, and has fought Republican efforts to strip Planned Parenthood of funding. Tierney has also worked diligently to ensure that the nuclear power industry is properly regulated, and is a leader in the bipartisan effort to police waste and misspending in the Afghanistan war. And Tierney is a staunch defender of gay rights and a committed advocate of marriage equality.
Overall, Tierney has assembled a record in Washington of which any Massachusetts congressman could be proud. We understand that Patrice's guilty plea was unsettling. But we urge voters who are still disturbed to hold their noses and cast their ballot for Tierney. They will be voting for John, not Patrice.
Tisei may not be a certifiable right-wing nut, but he is only a thinly disguised Tea Partier. In his 26 years as a legislator on Beacon Hill, Tisei was regarded as a moderate conservative. Now, however, Tisei has changed his stripes — embracing the Republicans' Paul Ryan budget that would compromise Social Security, gut Medicare and Medicaid, promote sweetheart tax treatment for the wealthiest, and replicate the nothing-is-too-good-for-corporate-interests agenda that spawned the Bush-era crash.
Tisei is gay, and lives with his partner, with whom he jointly owns a brokerage that handles residential and small commercial properties. His sexual orientation and his support for marriage equality, combined with his now out-of-date reputation as a moderate, have given Tisei effective political cover. However, if voters brush past the cosmetics and look hard at the fundamentals, they will see that today Tisei is a staunch Republican royalist committed to privileging the one percent, ignoring the 47 percent, and screwing everyone in between.
A Tisei victory would shortchange the North Shore, as well as Massachusetts. It would also aid and abet the radical economic reactionaries who want to return America to an 1890s-style plutocracy.