U.S. Rep. John Tierney could have his hands full again this year as a new poll showed him deadlocked with Republican Richard Tisei in a race shaping up to be the most competitive congressional race in Massachusetts.
Tierney, D-Salem, beat Tisei, a former state Senate minority leader from Wakefield and gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker’s running mate in 2010, by just 4,300 votes, according to the Secretary of State’s office. A third party candidate, libertarian Daniel Fishman, garnered 16,739 votes that year.
This year’s race, which currently does not include an independent candidate, may be decided in towns like North Andover, Boxford and Billerica.
The poll found that Tisei holds a 10 percentage point lead in the northern part of the Sixth Congressional District, which stretches from Gloucester to Billerica and includes Lynn, Salem, Newburyport, Boxford and North Andover. Tierney’s greatest support came from the populous Salem-Lynn area, where he leads Tisei by 10 points.
But the western portion of the district is a tossup, the poll found.
The poll’s respondents gave Tierney and Tisei similar marks for favorability, at 42 percent and 40 percent respectively. But Tierney’s unfavorability rating was much higher at 48 percent to Tisei’s 29 percent, according to the poll. Among independent voters, Tisei did better on both measures, earning a 48 percent to 18 percent favorable-unfavorable rating.
Tierney’s campaign pushed back against the moderate Republican image Tisei has tried to cultivate by saying Tisei would support Congressman John Boehner, R-Ohio, as speaker of the House of Representatives.
“There is no Sixth District voter that believes someone who claims to be a moderate, pro-choice, pro-gay rights candidate would cast their very first vote for an entire Republican leadership team who are publicly committed to rolling back abortion rights for every woman in America, opposing marriage equality, and passing a draconian budget that hurts seniors, students and middle-class families,” said Ryan Matthews, Tierney campaign manager.