This is the first of two stories about the 6th District congressional candidates campaigning locally.
SALEM — As Congressman John Tierney strolls through the streets in his hometown, shaking hands and visiting small businesses, it’s easy to forget that he’s at the center of a political maelstrom — one of the testiest, nastiest and most personal congressional races in the nation.
At least on this morning, a recent overcast Friday, the heat of the campaign seems to be on the back burner and the congressman relaxed.
“Make sure you guys get out and vote,” he says with a smile, connecting a mutual elbow bump with one of the cooks in front of a heaping pile of home fries at Red’s Sandwich Shop.
Another woman, with a Tierney button fastened to her shirt, practically runs up to the congressman on Central Street to say hello and give him a hug. He’s stopped repeatedly throughout the morning by well-wishers pledging support, telling him to stay strong in the final weeks of what has been a brutal campaign.
One woman who says she’s a business owner in Beverly interrupts an interview to tell him, “I just want to tell you that I support you very strongly.”
It’s clear she doesn’t know Tierney personally, but most of those he visits and who stop him in the street seem to know him well.
“Hang in there, John. That was a good one last night,” says Alex Panos, the owner of Alex and Co. hair salon, referring to a heated and sometimes vicious debate the previous night on NECN.
“Hi, John,” Roy Tetrault, the co-owner of Bernard’s Jewelers, says nonchalantly when the congressman walks in, as if there’s nothing unusual about this visit. The two chat for a while, before Tierney tells Tetrault to “keep smiling” and the merchant wishes him “good luck, John,” as Tierney heads off again.