, Newburyport, MA

February 5, 2014

Keep debate on issues, please

Newburyport Daily News

---- — Two years ago, the race pitting former state Sen. Richard Tisei against incumbent Congressman John Tierney proved to be one of the nation’s most closely contested races — and dissolved into one of the most bitter as well.

With the criminal finding against Tierney’s wife Patrice still hot in the news, Tisei focused his attention on that “issue” more than any other, far more legitimate national and district concerns. He also drew the backing of a well-heeled, alarming campaign by so-called Super-PACs — including one organized by former Republican congressman Peter Torkildsen — that embarrassingly portrayed Tierney as being, among other things, “weak on terrorism” and partly responsible for the Benghazi embassy attacks.

Yet, as if to even up the tawdry fray, Tierney’s forces countered with references aligning Tisei with the far-right tea party, also a clear misnomer. Tisei, in fact, is a pro-choice gay Republican — hardly a prime candidate for tea party leadership.

Let’s hope that none of this year’s debates get sidetracked by those types of references or allegations from either side. With health care reform, tax policies, economic and education visions, minimum wages and winding down of military involvement in Afghanistan all in play, voters across Greater Newburyport and the entire 6th District will need clear, concise views from these and any other candidates.

Let’s hope all sides stick to the issues this time around. Voters deserve nothing less.