Former State Senate Republican Leader and local business owner Richard Tisei formally announced his congressional candidacy Thursday afternoon at the Americal Civic Center in Wakefield.
Tisei, a Wakefield resident who co-owns Northrup Realtors in Lynnfield, is challenging longtime Democratic incumbent John Tierney to a rematch of their 2012 race, which the moderate Republican lost by only about 4,000 votes.
At the campaign kickoff, Tisei was introduced by State Rep. Donald Wong, who praised the candidate as a bipartisan listener who is still fondly remembered from his time as a state legislator. Tisei noted that 30 years ago, his political career had basically kicked off in the exact same room, when he launched his first campaign for state rep.
“If things had improved over the past couple of years, I wouldn’t be standing here today,” said Tisei. The candidate went on to note that a child born today will be on the hook for about $55,000 for their portion of the national debt, while the workforce participation rate has fallen to its lowest point in 40 years as young people struggle with debt and an overall shortage of opportunity.
A good part of the 2012 campaign was characterized by questions about what, if anything, Tierney knew about the illegal offshore gambling activities of his wife’s family members.
This year’s campaign is likely to focus more on Obamacare and the effects it has had on local families. One of the opening speakers was businesswoman Erin Calvo-Bacci, who described how her family had moved out of their house in Wakefield to help pay the $1,400 monthly healthcare premiums, had to reapply for an insurance policy, and had also encountered other uncertainties about coverage.
“Who was protecting all our interests when this bill was passed? Who was fighting for our state?” said Tisei.
Another speaker was Mike Beautow of Amesbury, who said he had voted for Tierney since moving to the district in 2007, but then met Tisei after the 2012 elections and was impressed by how different he was from what the political ads portayed him as. “I’d like to have that one back,” he said of his 2012 vote for Tierney.
Tisei also hit Tierney as a highly partisan, far left legislator who votes with the House Democratic leader 99 percent of the time. “Nobody is right 99 percent of the time,” said Tisei. “When your vote turns into a rubber stamp, you stop representing the people who voted for you.”
But before any Tisei-Tierney rematch, Tierney will have to beat out a primary challenge from Seth Moulton, a Salem businessman and former Marine who grew up in Marblehead.
Another factor to watch will be whether any third party candidates enter this race. A Libertarian who ran in 2012 drew about 16,000 votes, about quadruple the vote margin between Tierney and Tisei, and there will also be no presidential candidates at the top of the ballot this year.
Tisei concluded his campaign event by citing the famous Alfred Einstein quote about the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.