The Massachusetts U.S. House seat held by Democrat John Tierney for nearly 16 years wasn't on anybody's list of competitive races this year, but Republican challenger Richard Tisei appears to have turned into a tight campaign.
At least that was the judgment of the Washington Post last week when it officially moved the Sixth Congressional District race from leaning Democratic into its toss-up column, based on a poll in late September showing the incumbent Tierney trailing Tisei by six points and falling behind in fundraising.
|John Tierney (AP Photo)
But the news gets worse for Tierney, 61, whose campaign has been plagued by revelations last year of an illegal gambling ring run by his brother-in-law and his wife's subsequent brief jailing on tax return violations in connection with it. Now the respected Rothenberg Political Report has moved the race from toss-up into its leaning Republican column.
Tierney, however, insists his own internal polling still has him in the lead and that on election day, Massachusetts voters will return a Democrat to Congress to represent the North Shore district running from Bedford to Salisbury.
"The outlook is good, " he told the Boston Globe last week.
Tierney has also insisted in the face of relentless criticism from Tisei, 50, that he had no knowledge of his brother-in-law's illegal gambling activity, a point the Republican challenger hammered away at during a recent debate between the two.
In an interview with the Globe, the congressman called the ads being run by Tisei and outside GOP-affiliated groups focusing on it “$3 million worth of misinformation and innuendo and insinuation.”
“This is what the tea party and my opponent think they have to do to change the discussion from what he stands for and who he would put in charge if elected,” Tierney told the Globe.
|Richard Tisei (AP Photo)
The gambling scandal has forced Tierney to spend money on new ads to push back at the attack on his credibility, an effort political experts believe could hinder his financial ability to put up ads in the closing days of the campaign touting his record and attacking Tisei directly.
For his part, Tisei, who had a 26-year career in the state House and Senate, culmnating in a four-year stint as Minority Senate Leader, is seeking to become the first openly gay Republican member of the House.
And is confident of victory on Nov. 6. "We have a lot of momentum on our side," he told the Globe, adding that people seem to be "pretty responsive right now to the message" that portrays him as a moderate "live and let live" Republican challenging a Democrat with a "credibility problem."
"People don't expect perfection in their elected officials, but they do expect them to tell the truth and to be honest, and he's failed," Tisei said.
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