NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 8, 2012

Grass-roots support led Tierney to victory

If you listened to the conventional wisdom in the lead-up to Tuesday’s election, you’d have expected Republican Richard Tisei to be the next congressman in the 6th District — and you’d have been wrong.

Against almost all predictions, incumbent John Tierney survived a brutal campaign in which he was outspent, dogged by a family scandal that dominated the race and hit with a late tidal wave of momentum for his challenger. It all fueled a sense of inevitability as Election Day approached.

Tisei had been supremely confident the last few weeks of the campaign, even spending thousands to run an advertisement of nothing but waves crashing into Good Harbor Beach to give voters a reprieve from the political noise. The message of the ad seemed clear: “We’ve got this in the bag.”

But they didn’t.

In the end, Tierney’s quiet, grass-roots support in the district, and the strength of the good will he has built through thousands of personal connections during his 16 years in Congress, trumped millions of dollars in negative advertising, his supporters and staff said in interviews yesterday.

“The truth is, inside this district when you ask people the question, ‘Does John Tierney do a good job?’ the answer is ‘Yes,’” said Michael Goldman, a Democratic political strategist and a personal friend of Tierney’s. “Performance really does matter.

“John Tierney is not necessarily the guy you would invite to your St. Patrick’s Day dinner, and no one would ever invite him on ‘The Tonight Show.’ But he’s at literally thousands of events across the district. Voters reward guys who do the job.”

Tierney told The Salem News yesterday that he always believed the voters would recognize his record.

“We were trusting in people that they were knowledgeable of who I was,” he said. “We always felt that if we spoke about the issues, it would work out.”

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