Tisei joins the race for Congress

By John Laidler
Globe Correspondent / November 17, 2011

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The 2012 race for the Sixth District congressional seat is generating early attention with the recent decision of a prominent Republican to enter the fray, along with the addition of three towns to the district.

Richard R. Tisei, a former state senator from Wakefield and the 2010 GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, on Tuesday was set to announce that he is running to unseat eight-term Democratic incumbent John F. Tierney of Salem.

Tisei becomes the second Republican to enter the race, setting up the prospect of a primary with Bill Hudak, the Boxford Republican who unsuccessfully challenged Tierney in 2010 and already has announced he is running again.

The Tisei news came as legislators this week were preparing to adopt a congressional redistricting plan that would add Billerica, Tewksbury, and part of Andover to the Sixth District.

Some area Republicans believe the addition of the new territory could strengthen the party’s chances of regaining a seat they have not held since 1997.

“These communities are very attractive to Republican candidates,’’ said Nancy Luther, a Republican State Committee member from Topsfield, noting that Andover, Billerica, and Tewksbury all voted for the GOP ticket of Charlie Baker and Tisei in the gubernatorial election and for Republican Scott Brown in the special election for US Senate earlier in 2010.

Democratic State Committee member Arthur Powell of Beverly is not convinced the addition of the three towns is a setback for his party.

Powell noted that when Wakefield joined the district a decade ago, “It had a Republican state senator, Richard Tisei. That community now has a Democratic state senator,’’ he said, referring to Katherine Clark of Melrose.

“I like to think that under the leadership of Congressman Tierney. . . . that over time, these communities may become a little less Republican,’’ he said of Andover, Billerica, and Tewksbury.

Tisei, who planned to make his announcement at the Americal Civic Center in Wakefield, served three terms in the Massachusetts House and 10 in the Senate before departing after his unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor.

“I think the country is headed in the wrong direction,’’ Tisei, the co-owner of Northrup Realty in Lynnfield, said in an interview. “A lot of people are hurting right now. A lot of people are unemployed or underemployed,’’ Tisei said, noting that in his business, he has worked with people who have lost their homes.

“I have a much different vision of where we should be headed as a country than John Tierney does,’’ Tisei added. “He supports higher taxes. He’s voted for all the spending. He supports all the excessive regulations that are killing jobs and he thinks the government has the solution to every problem.’’

Tierney spokeswoman Kathryn Prael responded by e-mail. “During the weeks and months ahead, Congressman Tierney will continue to fight to get Americans back to work, revive our economy, and protect Social Security and Medicare,’’ she said.

“It will be interesting to see how whomever emerges from the Republican primary will defend the position of House Republicans, including slashing Pell grants for families who need help sending their kids to college, cutting Social Security and Medicare, and eliminating both the Department of Education [and the Environmental Protection Agency]. All of this, in favor of continuing a tax system that unfairly benefits people who least need it,’’ Prael said.

Tisei indicated he has no plan to make Tierney’s wife’s legal troubles a campaign issue. Patrice Tierney served a 30-day prison sentence earlier this year after pleading guilty to four counts of aiding and abetting the filing of false tax returns for her brother, a federal fugitive.

“I’m going to leave it up to the people to decide on their own’’ regarding that matter, Tisei said. “I’m going to spend my time talking about the issues that are confronting people in their daily lives.’’

Meanwhile, Hudak said he is in the race to stay, despite Tisei’s entry.

“The fact that someone else decided to run against the incumbent is certainly not going to change my drive to run or the reasons that motivated me to run,’’ said Hudak, a lawyer.

“This is not a time for politics or politicians,’’ Hudak said, asserting that as someone who has been in politics for 26 years, Tisei is a politician. He observed, however, “I admire the work he’s done over the years.’’

“I’m planning to do what I have to do to win the seat,’’ Tisei said, regarding possible primary opposition. “I give [Hudak] a lot of credit for challenging Tierney two years ago and I think he showed that the right candidate could defeat John Tierney.’’

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