Gay Republican Challenges Long-Time Mass. Congressman
It was standing room only at Bobby Van’s Grill in downtown Washington, D.C., on Monday as former Massachusetts lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Richard Tisei greeted supporters and potential donors to his congressional campaign. He was quick to point out to them during the meet-and-greet that Washington is broken, and he is the candidate who can help fix it.
"If you’re happy with the way things are right now, vote for the incumbent-re-elect him," he said. "If you really want a change and you want to change the direction that the country is going in, I’m a great choice."
Tisei, who was elected Senate minority leader in Jan. 2007, announced his candidacy against eight-term incumbent Congressman John Tierney last November. The former lieutenant gubernatorial candidate would represent Massachusetts’ 6th Congressional District that includes most of the North Shore and a portion of Middlesex County on Capitol Hill if elected.
Tisei’s campaign received a boost late last month with U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s endorsement. Attorney John Hudak suspended his campaign in January to promote an anti-aging supplement.
"Most people recognize that the country isn’t heading in the right direction," said Tisei. "When you talk to people, they just know that something’s wrong."
Tisei told EDGE in an interview during the Washington, D.C., campaign event that the economy and jobs are the issues about which voters are most concerned. As the owner of a real estate brokerage company, Tisei said he has spoken with many homeowners who have sold their homes because they lost their jobs and can no longer afford them.
"The issues that are most important to people right now is... trying to get the federal government under control, trying to get the government to be more business friendly, to help try to jump start the economy, get things moving again," he said. "Ultimately I think like the average person looks at what’s going down here in Washington and they’re just like ’this isn’t good.’"
Republican Pinal County, Ariz., Sheriff Paul Babeu launched his congressional campaign in January, weeks before he came out after an ex-boyfriend alleged that he threatened to deport him to Mexico if he publicly disclosed their relationship. The Boston Globe reported Tisei’s sexual orientation days before Charlie Baker chose him as a running mate in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
He said his homosexuality was no secret among his Beacon Hill colleagues.