Despite focus this week on the candidates’ tax returns and Rep. John Tierney’s ongoing family woes, neither issue arose yesterday as Democrat Tierney, Republican Richard Tisei and Libertarian Daniel Fishman met in debate for the first time during this 6th Congressional District race.
That’s not to say there wasn’t drama in the packed gymnasium at North Shore Community College in Lynn.
Fishman, seated between Tierney and Tisei, was often caught in the middle as the bitter rivals exchanged fierce jabs, perpetuating what has been one of the ugliest campaigns in the country this year.
At one point, holding up a recent negative mailing that claimed Tisei would end Medicare, the Wakefield Republican vowed support for the program and said Tierney “should be ashamed for stooping to this level.”
Tierney quickly retorted, “Are you not ashamed?” referring to mailings and television ads funded by the Young Guns, a Republican super PAC, that have questioned Tierney’s integrity and even his manhood.
Moderator Bruce Mohl, editor of Commonwealth Magazine, asked the crowd at the onset to remain silent, which lasted a brief time before temptation prevailed and vigorous applause and jeers became commonplace.
Sticking with themes their campaigns have hammered throughout the year, Tierney repeatedly tried to tie Tisei to right-wing Republican ideology, while Tisei stressed his independence and bipartisanship and criticized Tierney’s record of voting with Democratic leaders “99 percent of the time.”
“I’ll stand on my own two feet” in Washington, Tisei said, noting that he voted with Republican Gov. Mitt Romney only about half the time as a state senator.
“It’s pretty strange that you took $3 million and still say you stand on your own two feet,” Tierney said, referring again to ad buys from the Republican super PAC. “When you take $3 million from them ... I’m pretty sure you’re in their debt.”