NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

July 16, 2014

Keeping the super-PACS at bay

When Republican challenger Richard Tisei first announced he would mount a second run for the 6th District U.S. House seat held by nine-term incumbent John Tierney, there were comments from both sides vowing to keep their campaign talks on the many issues at hand — and suggesting there’d be no repeat of their scorched-earth run for the same seat in 2012.

Now, both candidates should tell their party leaders and all of their supporters – both around the district and elsewhere — to do the same.

Not surprisingly, the 6th District race — covering voters here in Greater Newburyport and around the North Shore — has once again been identified by both national parties as a battleground this election year.

The close, volatile nature of the race has once again drawn the attention of the so-called SuperPACS — political action committees that can essentially spend outside traditional campaign finance rules and operate outside the direction of the local candidates. To that end, House Majority PAC has reserved $450,000 in advertising time with Boston-area TV stations, according to the Federal Election Commission. And the group, backed by Democratic strategists, will use the money to blanket airwaves with criticism of Tisei, who came within 1 percentage point of ousting Tierney two years ago.

Similarly, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which backed Tisei in 2012, has already spent $350,000 on ads lauding him as an “independent voice” who wants to end “partisan gridlock” on Capitol Hill. And Tisei is also getting help from gay and lesbian rights groups, including the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the conservative American Unity PAC and the Log Cabin Republicans. All three have endorsed Tisei, who would become the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress if he wins.

“This race is critically important to us,” said Victory Fund spokesman Steven Thai. “House Speaker John Boehner does not have an openly LGBT member in his caucus.”

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