NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

July 15, 2013

Challenge to Tierney makes for better election

Whether you’re a Democrat, Republican or independent, the news that there will be another candidate for Congress in the 6th District next year is welcome.

Seth Moulton, a Marblehead native making his first bid for public office, has announced he’ll challenge Congressman John Tierney for the Democratic nomination next year.

Although he has no experience as a legislator, he has a resume sporting three Harvard degrees and four tours of duty with the Marine Corps in Iraq.

There hasn’t been a credible Democratic primary challenge in the 6th District since Congressman Nick Mavroules squeaked by challenger Barbara Hildt of Amesbury in 1992 — and that occurred while Mavroules was under indictment on political corruption charges. Mavroules went on to lose to Republican Peter Torkildsen. Four years later, Tierney beat Torkildsen and satisfied voters have been returning him to office for the better part of two decades.

The situation now is different — Tierney squeaked past Republican Richard Tisei last year. While the GOP made much of the gambling scandal involving Tierney’s wife and in-laws, the congressman himself was never charged with wrongdoing and won his ninth term.

Moulton considered a run last year when Tierney was at his most vulnerable but opted, probably wisely, to stay in Texas, where he was living at the time. It was too late to get on the ballot as a Democrat, and if he had run as an independent, he would have risked being viewed as a spoiler — and possibly ruining any future he might hope to have as a Democrat.

As Tisei found, it’s pretty hard to win in the 6th District as a Republican, so the most viable choices might well be between Democrats. It’s good to see someone willing to challenge the power of incumbency to offer that choice.

Whether Moulton turns out to be a good candidate remains to be seen, but, as Tierney himself said, “This process makes our democracy stronger.”

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