By Matthew K. Roy
LYNN — The antagonism that has fueled the race for Congress in the 6th District made it all the way through the final debate last night between Republican Bill Hudak and Democrat John Tierney.
Hudak delivered his closing remarks first, using his allotted two minutes to decry the lies he alleges Tierney has spread about him.
"What has happened in the last two weeks has been the most anti-American, unreasonable slam campaign I have ever seen," said Hudak, a lawyer from Boxford making his first run for public office.
This week, he filed a libel lawsuit against Tierney, the incumbent from Salem, asking a judge to order the congressman to stop using a television spot that suggests Hudak wants to "shift the tax burden from the wealthiest to the middle class" and "eliminate the home mortgage deduction."
"(Tierney) is not fit to continue to be our representative," Hudak said.
When it was his turn to speak, Tierney held up a folder full of documentation he said proved his claims about Hudak were true.
"When this (folder) was filed, (Hudak) decided to turn tail and run," Tierney said, referring to the Republican's decision Wednesday to drop the lawsuit. "The only issue outstanding now is how much he will pay in attorney's fees and costs for putting us and the taxpayer through the effort of tying up the court."
With days to go before the Nov. 2 election, the candidates met last night for the third and last time. The Lynn Business Partnership and North Shore Labor Council hosted the debate, which was held in a lecture hall at St. Mary's High School in Lynn.
Richard Holbrook, chairman and chief executive officer of Eastern Bank, served as moderator. Representatives from the partnership, the council and Daily Item of Lynn questioned the candidates.
During the hour, Hudak and Tierney reiterated positions that have become familiar to voters who have paid attention throughout the campaign.
Hudak said he wanted to cut taxes and reduce the regulation that stifles business growth. He characterized himself as the change candidate.
"You can't solve the problems that you have with the same people who caused them in the first place," Hudak said.
Tierney highlighted the 8 million jobs lost and the economic contraction that occurred during the Bush administration. The economy, he said, has begun to grow.
"We're not where we want to be, but we're certainly better off than we were," Tierney said.
Hudak wants to extend the Bush era tax cuts. Tierney wants to see most of them expire but keep tax cuts for families earning $250,000 a year and less.
Pointing out that 10 percent of Lynn's school budget is funded with federal dollars, the congressman criticized Hudak for supporting the "dismantling" of the Department of Education in a Tea Party Voter Guide.
Hudak claimed he didn't want to eliminate the department, only that he believes education decisions should be made on the local, not federal, level.
The Republican went after Tierney for not disclosing to the government millions of dollars that were in an account his wife managed for her brother, Robert Eremian. Eremian was indicted in August on charges that included racketeering, money laundering and operating an illegal gambling business.
"The congressman takes great pains to look at my financial disclosure report and to say that I have $1 million in Bank of America stock," Hudak said, referring to information Tierney has publicized. "That's my wife's money. The congressman knows more about my wife than he does his own."
Tierney has said he was not obliged to disclose the money because it was his brother-in-law's, not his wife's.
"My financial statements are in perfect order," he said last night.
Calling it "inappropriate behavior," Tierney again questioned Hudak's "maturity and judgment" for displaying a yard sign in 2008 that showed then-candidate Barack Obama made to look like terrorist Osama bin Laden.
"It's been the only issue in the whole campaign that the congressman wants to talk about," Hudak said.
If elected, Hudak said he wouldn't be a partisan. "The reason this country is stalled out now is because this Congress and people like John Tierney are so anti-working together to solve the problems," Hudak said.
Tierney said government can be the solution to the country's woes.
"I say what we should do with government is make sure it stands up for us, fights for the middle class, fights for our rights and does the job that we should expect it to do," Tierney said.