SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

October 26, 2012

Benton: A long Tuesday for Tierney

One can’t have many worse days that the one experienced by Congressman John Tierney on Tuesday.

Waking up to the news that The Boston Globe, a bastion of the state’s liberal establishment, had endorsed his Republican opponent, had to hurt. And the salve provided by words of praise from a bevy of Gloucester pols later that morning gave only temporary relief as word arrived that Tierney’s wife, Patrice, had been involved in a car accident in Danvers.

According to police, she was not at fault, and fortunately, her injuries were not serious. But the scare capped a campaign that has to rank as the most painful in the more than 16 years the Salem Democrat has represented the North Shore in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has not been seriously challenged since his rematch with Danvers Republican Peter Torkildsen in 1998, yet today finds himself in the fight of his life against former legislator and lieutenant governor candidate Richard Tisei of Wakefield.

It’s not just the unfavorable publicity generated by Patrice Tierney’s having helped manage some of the money generated by her bookmaking brother’s offshore gambling enterprise. The incumbent has found himself the victim of a changing political environment that includes super PACs capable of paying vast sums of money to finance negative advertising aimed at those candidates they dislike, and a redistricting plan — drafted by Tierney’s fellow Democrats on Beacon Hill, no less — that left his district light in the type of urban Democrats upon whom his campaigns have historically relied, and more heavily weighted in favor of independents and suburban Republicans.

Big Labor is pulling out all the stops in an effort to see Tierney re-elected. But will it be enough?

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Both presidential candidates shared a stage in Manhattan a few days prior to that final encounter and were able to have some fun at the expense of both themselves and their respective opponent.

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