A razor thin margin separated rivals Congressman John Tierney and Richard Tisei in a 6th Congressional race still too close to call at 11 p.m. last night, as The Daily News went to press.
As polls trickled in, the lead oscillated back-and-forth with Democratic incumbent Tierney clinging to a slim 49 percent to 47 percent lead with several smaller towns still left to report. As expected, Tisei did well in the western and northwestern parts of the district and Tierney dominated the cities of Lynn and Salem and did probably better than expected in other parts of the district. Tierney won by large margins in Newburyport and Amesbury, and lost Salisbury, Merrimac, West Newbury and Newbury by fairly small margins.
Tierney was trying to earn his ninth term in Congress representing the district, and Tisei was vying to became the first openly gay non-incumbent Republican ever elected to Congress and the first Republican elected to the U.S. House from Massachusetts in 16 years.
Yesterday was to be the conclusion to what has been one of the most bruising and nasty campaigns in the nation -- punctuated by more than $5 million
in outside spending, a barrage of negative television ads and mailers and very real animosity between the rival candidates.
Tisei’s election night party at the Peabody Marriott was rollicking in the early part of the evening with cheers and excitement, but grew sullen and anxious as television networks announced Democrat Elizabeth Warren the victor over Sen. Scott Brown, and saw Tisei’s early lead evaporate as the evening wore on. Some Tisei staffers appeared teary eyed and embraced each other in consolation just minutes before 11 p.m. Many of the couple hundred who came earlier in the night had filed out by then.
“We’re still waiting for the small towns to report and hopefully when they do it will be to our advantage,” said Saugus state Rep. Donald Wong at about 10:30 p.m. “It’s going to be a photo finish.”
Tisei and Republicans succeeded in making Tierney’s family’s legal woes a central theme in the campaign and the Salem Democrat has struggled to change the narrative.
Tierney and Democratic groups tried, with limited success, to paint Tisei as a right-wing radical, linking him to Tea Party ideology, despite the fact that Tisei supports legalizing gay marriage, protecting abortion rights and preserving many social programs. Tisei’s liberal stances on social issues have earned him a reputation as a moderate, although his
views swing substantially to the right when it comes to fiscal issues. Tisei wants to maintain tax breaks for the wealthy, repeal Obamacare, is open
to restructuring Medicare and other programs and wants to reduce regulations on business.