Richard Tisei’s effort to wrest the 6th District seat in Congress from incumbent John Tierney has entered the final weekend of campaigning.
And both candidates are rolling out big-name allies — former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani for Tisei, Rep. Barney Frank for Tierney — in their bids to nail down a race the national publication RollCall Friday assessed as a tossup.
Guiliani campaigned with Tisei in Saugus at midday Friday before peeling off to help Republican Sen. Scott Brown in his own tossup with Democrat Elizabeth Warren, with whom Frank campaigned Friday.
Frank, meanwhile, is joining Tierney on the campaign tail in Gloucester today, beginning at 9:30 at Democratic campaign headquarters in the Walgreen’s plaza off Rogers Street, and meeting with local fishermen at 10 on Harbor Loop.
Guiliani described Tisei Friday as an independent-minded politician at a rally before about 100 supporters at the Prince Restaurant on Route 1.
“I am honored to have a personal hero of mine, Mayor Giuliani, stand beside me and endorse my candidacy,” said Tisei.
After 32 years in Congress, Frank, who is retiring at the end of the 112th Congress, is scheduled to campaign alongside a familiar ally when he adds his voice and support to Tierney today.
Since the start of the Obama administration, which brought Jane Lubchenco to head NOAA with a commitment and policies to reduce the size of the independent fishing fleet, Frank and Tierney formed a partnership in the fight on fishing industry issues, with Frank leading on policy questions and Tierney taking a lead role in the fight for law enforcement accountability.
“He’s a better lawyer than I am,” Frank said of Tierney in a telephone interview Friday, quickly adding, “But then he practiced, and I didn’t.”
Frank went directly from Harvard Law School to the administration of the late Mayor of Boston, Kevin White, and then moved into the state Legislature before winning a seat in Congress in 1980.
Giuliani served two terms as mayor of New York City ending in 2001 where he won public laurels for his steady hand in the tragic chaos following the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers by Islamic terrorists. His presidential campaign in 2008 proved a dud, but he had also been a federal prosecutor which provided him with a tough guy persona to go with a wide smile and easy geniality.
RollCall, the Capitol Hill daily, sought to analyze the dynamics of the race in the question:
“Is the power of innuendo strong enough to end a long political career? For Tierney, the answer looks to be yes,” the widely respected political publication reported. “The congressman has been accused of no wrongdoing, but his proximity to his wife’s family’s trouble with the law over an offshore gambling ring has been politically toxic.”
Still, RollCall acknowledges that real estate brokerage co-owner Tisei, a former long-term state legislator and the 2010 nominee for lieutenant governor, is making his bid “in a comfortably Democratic district.”
“In a presidential year, Tisei will have to outperform GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by a big margin,” RollCall reported. “But the wind’s not at the incumbent’s back, with recent polls showing Tisei ahead. Tierney could still win, but it will be ugly.”
Frank said the best reason to re-elect Tierney, beyond his productivity on district, education and fisheries issues, “is two words, Eric Cantor” — the House majority leader closely associated with the Tea Party, the more conservative wing of the Republican Party.
“It’s not rational,” said Frank, “to vote for Barack Obama and then put his opponents in charge of Congress.” Obama is expected to carry Massachusetts by at least 20 percent, hence RollCall’s uncertainty.
Tisei has distanced himself from the Tea Party, but has attracted more than $2.3 million from the Republican National Campaign Committee and its Young Guns Super PAC. He has also outdrawn Tierney from other super PACS, the political action committees of corporations freed to spend at will at arm’s length from candidates.
Tierney and Frank have tagged Tisei with the ultra conservative label, but Tisei, who is gay, supports gay marriage and is pro-choice, has scoffed at those connections. And Guiliani made the point Friday that Tisei was a post-partisan.
”We need good men and women who put the country first; who feel the need to take action for America — not for their political party,” said the former mayor. “We need someone like Richard Tisei, who doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk. Even when he was in the minority, Richard was able to get things done for his constituents because he knew that he had to give something to the other side in order to make the right things happen.”
“If there is one person who knows what it takes to make the tough decisions for the people he serves, it’s him,” Tisei added. “Mayor Giuliani and I share the belief that it takes more than just sticking with your party to get things done. You have to reach across the aisle, you have to find common ground, and you have to build coalitions in order to achieve the kinds of solutions the people of America need.”
Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.