Tisei dismissed charges that he is partisan, saying he worked with Democrats in the state Legislature on education, welfare and health care while passing balanced budgets.
“That’s the type of representation I’ll provide,” he said. “And by the way, while I was there, not one person ever called me an extremist.”
Tisei used his announcement to link Tierney to criticism of Obamacare, the national health care plan. Erin Calvo-Bacci, the owner of a family-run chocolate company in Reading, addressed the crowd and blamed Obamacare for her family’s rising health insurance costs.
“It forced us to sell our home in Wakefield and move a family of five to a two-bedroom apartment above one of our stores,” she said.
Mike Buetow of Amesbury, who also spoke to the crowd, said he has voted for Tierney ever since he moved to the 6th District in 2007, but is now behind Tisei.
“I punched the Democratic ticket. In Massachusetts, that’s the easy way out,” he said. “Not anymore. Richard is nothing like his opponents say. He’s a listener.”
Among the local politicians who showed up in support of Tisei was Matt St. Hilaire, a newly elected Beverly city councilor. St. Hilaire said he got to know Tisei while working for Gov. Paul Cellucci.
“He’s always worked in a bipartisan way and gets things done,” St. Hilaire said. “I think we need more of that in Washington, D.C.”
Tisei did not mention either of Tierney’s Democratic primary opponents, Seth Moulton of Marblehead and Marisa DeFranco of Middleton.
Moulton released a statement saying the people of the 6th District are ready for change, but said Tisei’s positions on health care and immigration reform show that he is “just too extreme for the families of this district.”