Destination 270

SMU Students Analyze the 2012 Presidential Election

Massachusetts Representative Keeps His Head Above Water in Scandal, Tough Re-Election

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The people of Massachusetts’ 6th District have seen their fair share of scandal over the last few years as their representative to the U.S. House, John Tierney (D) has been caught up in a bitter family gambling scandal since shortly after his re-election in 2010.  Although Tierney has fervently claimed his innocence throughout his entire term, this year’s bid for re-election in to his 9th term was a real nail biter for the candidate and his supporters. (See past post: Challenger Capitalizes on Incumbent’s Family Scandal in Mass 6th District)

Tierney, who has held office for eight consecutive terms, is one of the most liberal members of Congress and hails from one of the most liberal (and affluent) areas in Massachusetts.  He has had no problem in the past securing his re-election with large margins of victory and has proven to be extremely well respected within his district.

This year, however, Tierney’s already vulnerable seat due to the ongoing family scandal was made even more vulnerable by his strong opponent.  Richard Tisei was a young, fiscally conservative, socially libertarian Republican.  He also would have been the first openly gay Republican member in the House of Representatives.  Given the wealthy, more socially liberal demographic of District 6, Tisei was a strong challenger that garnered more support than Republican’s in the past.  His campaign was heavily centered around attacking Tierney as a no-good politician who had lied to the people about his involvement in his brother-in-laws gambling scandal.

However, voters in the 6th District proved last week just how hard it is to unseat a popular incumbent, even in the midst of a scandal.  No doubt it was down to the wire, with Tierney grabbing 48.2% of the vote and Tisei grabbing 47.2%, but in the end the veteran Congressman was still victorious.

Although Tierney gave his victory speech around 1 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Tisei refused to immediately concede.  Tisei’s campaign manager alleged that there had been voting irregularities in the town of Lynn, and also called for an investigation in to the ballots that had been sent in by members of the military.

His campaign manager said in a statement to the Boston Herald early Wednesday morning, “There are some irregularities in some places that are causing concerns.  In Lynn, we’ve had multiple reports of unidentified people saying if you want to continue to get your welfare checks, here’s how you are going to vote, and I don’t think they included Richard Tisei on that list.”

He continued in justification for their refusal to concede, “ I think that kind of pressure, outside a polling place, on people who are welfare dependent, is outrageous.  In this kind of situation, I guarantee you Congressman Tierney would not be conceding.”

Immediately after Tisei’s team made those statements, the Democratic State Party Chairman told the Boston Herald “This is real easy.  The reason Tisei lost is because he failed to articulate any positive vision for the 6th District.  He’s run a campaign full of slanderous attacks, and now he’s going to attack the citizens of Lynn?”

Tierney did not address Tisei’s allegations of voter suppression in Lynn, but only gave a quick—yet joyful—acceptance speech.  He did, however, attempt to put to rest any lingering questions among voters about his involvement in his brothers gambling ring.

“In the end, this wasn’t about my family or his family.  It was about your families,” he told his audience at his acceptance speech.  “You own this.  It’s your victory.

Richard Tisei eventually conceded the race on Wednesday afternoon.  He lost the race by 4,000 votes out of 372,000 cast.  This translated into roughly 1% of the vote.

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