With Election Day Approaching, Tierney and Tisei Wage Battle to Win
The race between openly gay Republican candidate Richard Tisei and Democratic Rep. John Tierney for the a seat in the House of Representatives for Massachusetts's 6th Congressional District is on fire just one day before the elections. Both candidates were hard at work campaigning during the final hours before the polls open, courting the votes of citizens of Beverly, Gloucester and Lynn, among other North Shore and Cape Ann cities and towns.
"We're simply thrilled to have this much momentum going into tomorrow," Tisei's Campaign Communications Director Jennifer Drogus told EDGE. "We've come so far as a challenger facing a 16-year incumbent."
She added, "We're looking forward and we're not going to stop working until the results come in on Tuesday night and hopefully we'll continue to work long after that."
But Tierney's Communications Director Grant Herring told EDGE that they were confident going into the elections.
"Tisei will enable the Tea Party, and be just another foot soldier to block progress," said Herring. "His first vote will be to put the right wing in charge."
Both men are extremely experienced. Tierney has represented the 6th Congressional District for 16 years, while Tisei has worked in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and ran for Lieutenant Governor in 2010.
"Tisei's mix of libertarianism and fiscal conservatism makes an excellent blueprint," wrote The Boston Globe, which endorsed Tisei. In addition, the Salem Evening News and the Boston Herald have given Tisei their endorsement.
Tisei also tried to play to the LGBT vote, saying that there were plenty of times when Tierney voted against advancing LGBT rights, adding, "There shouldn't be any second class citizens in America."
Tierney's camp fired similar accusations at Tisei, saying that the former State Representative had a record of anti-LGBT votes that could not be erased by his coming out and announcing a pro-gay stance.
"Tisei has attacked his Democratic challenger for his support for gay adoption rights," said Herring, noting that Tierney's 16-year record of fighting for LGBT rights earned him the endorsement of HRC, The Rainbow Times and Congressman Barney Frank.
But one of the biggest issues facing Tisei, should he be elected, is convincing other Republicans to repeal DOMA, the federal law that makes same-sex marriage illegal on a national level.
"If I am fortunate enough to win on November 6, I will be the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress -- a position that shouldn't be that notable, but one that will provide me with an opportunity to engage with Republican leaders from the inside about how it affects myself, my constituents and LGBT people across the country," Tisei told EDGE. "I will find allies in my party, and adversaries in my party, but being in the room will help the fight for equality and one, hopefully soon, it will not be a battle, but rather a question of who we are and where we're going to put our nation back on track."
The Log Cabin Republicans, a pro-gay rights group for conservative voters, are ecstatic to have such a vibrant contender in their corner. R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans said in an interview, "we are very proud to call one of our own a strong candidate."
Not everyone is excited about the Republican challenger entering the race, however. Groups like MassResistance, a group of same-sex marriage opponents, are disgusted with the National Republican Party’s choice to back Tisei.
"Tisei is the only Republican congressional candidate in Massachusetts to receive support from the national Republican Congressional campaign," said Brian Camenker, one of MassResistance’s organizers.
That’s not the only group that could disrupt Tisei’s fast-gaining momentum. Tierney still has many supporters standing behind him.
Recently, he was endorsed by local publication The Gloucester Times, which argued that while he is "far from the ideal candidate," he has helped the prosperity of Gloucester’s fishing industry and transportation infrastructure. The Times is not so sure that Tisei will maintain that level of devotion to Gloucester’s industrious history.
A Nov. 5 textBoston Globe article showed voters still unsure about the two candidates. "I’m really torn," said Michael Shapiro, a Boxford resident, to the Globe. "I’m definitely leaning toward changing my vote [from Tierney to Tisei]."
Some voters are sticking with Tierney despite his wife’s alleged involvement with a recent illegal offshore gambling operation. According to the Globe, workers outside the GE plant in Lynn chanted support for Tierney during a rally, while Tierney shouted, "We have shared values that go way back. Nothing’s changed!"
Marion Anthony, a Gloucester resident, said "I’m voting for Tierney and I am basing my vote solely on women’s issues such as equal pay for equal work and women’s control over their own health."
Tisei has stated on several occasions that he would vote to repeal Obamacare. But his pro-choice stance is something that makes him an interesting contender within the GOP, which is largely pro-life. Anthony questioned how much clout Tisei would really have should the Republican Party cast him aside as a non-entity in the House.
Still, many are excited about Tisei, and some even question whether Tierney tried hard enough to fight against the Republican challenger.
"Tierney didn’t take the threat seriously," said one political insider.
Who will win on Tuesday is still unclear, but what is clear is the intense scrutiny with which America will be watching to see if Tisei can become the first openly gay Republican elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and how much change he can affect within the party if he moves to D.C. come January.
Additional reporting by Kathy Abate