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November 26, 2011

Tisei preps run for Tierney's Congress seat

Former lawmaker spent 26 years on Hill as outnumbered Republican

It's not easy to find success as a Republican politician in Massachusetts, but a veteran state lawmaker thinks his achievements at the Democrat-controlled Statehouse make him the best person to break the 13-year famine of Republican congressmen from Massachusetts.

Richard Tisei, a 26-year veteran of Beacon Hill who ran for lieutenant governor last year, is no stranger to working with the other party — an attribute he hopes will be attractive to those tiring of the paralyzing partisanship of Capitol Hill.

"When you are outnumbered 35 to 5 and you have what you think are great ideas, you don't get beaten down," Tisei said.

Tisei most recently served a four-year stint as minority leader in the Senate. Now he is taking on another challenge as a Republican candidate for the newly configured 6th District represented by veteran Democratic Congressman John Tierney.

Changes in the district and the legal troubles of Tierney's wife and brothers-in-law make him the most vulnerable to a Republican challenge, according to some political operatives. Some big-name Democrats say Tisei's position may be strengthened by the politicking skills he learned from working with Democrats in the Massachusetts Senate and House.

Tom Birmingham, a Democrat who served as state Senate president between 1996 and 2002, remembers Tisei as a productive voice of the opposition party.

"I had a cordial, courteous, professional relationship with Richard, as I think most Democrats did," said Birmingham.

Raised in Wakefield, Tisei was the youngest Republican ever elected to the state Legislature when he won the 22nd Middlesex House seat in 1984 at the age of 22. The American University graduate first got interested in politics after a day visit to the Statehouse while still attending Lynnfield High School.

Now 49, Tisei left the Legislature to run for lieutenant governor on the 2010 Republican ticket with Charlie Baker. Tisei disclosed he was gay prior to the campaign, with little fanfare and even less reaction from his party.

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