He speaks endearingly and lovingly of his wife, and he is very protective. When a reporter points out that he has never had an opportunity to interview Patrice, the congressman says, “And you never will, either.”
There is real anguish when he speaks about what she’s endured in this yearlong 6th District race against Republican challenger Richard Tisei.
“It’s emotionally difficult to see your wife used as a political tool over and over,” Tierney said. “I never anticipated someone’s naked ambition would allow him to run such a campaign. ... It has been devastating to her.”
Tisei’s own campaign has largely stayed away from Tierney’s wife in its advertising, instead allowing Republican groups and super PACs to handle the job. Tierney doesn’t make a distinction, pointing out that Tisei hasn’t disavowed the attacks.
Tierney maintains that he doesn’t regret his actions, or his handling of the situation in the direct aftermath.
“We were open and honest,” he said, noting that he came to The Salem News for an interview when news of the scandal broke. “I’ve had over 100 interviews and meetings about this.”
“You cannot believe how frustrating it is,” he said, not just of the ads, but that no matter how he tries, some people are always going to think he is dishonest.
In it to win it
Although Tierney admits he might have erred in subjecting his wife to campaign attacks, his resolve to win has never been stronger.
By the time the mailings and ads began, not running was no longer an option. The campaign was too far along, and Democrats would have been left without a candidate, virtually ceding the race to Republicans, he said.
If Washington weren’t so toxic, if Republicans were more reasonable, Tierney insists that he would have thought harder about sitting out the race — he had a good life in Salem running his small law practice, he said. But now he is unwilling to stay idle and let the country’s future fall into the wrong hands.