Republican 6th District congressional candidate Richard Tisei described incumbent Democrat John Tierney as a down-the-line party voter representing the big government that stands in the way of prosperity.
"I think I'm pretty reasonable," said Tisei, who lives in Wakefield and owns a real estate brokerage in Lynnfield. "We need to have a strong safety net."
In an hour-long meeting with the Times, he described himself as a "live-and-let-live Republican. I want the government off your back, out of your wallet and away from your bedroom."
"The federal government is standing in the way of helping people," he said,
In general terms, Tisei described the fishing industry as burdened by an irresponsible central state bureaucracy. "We need a top to bottom change at NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)."
Tisei said he has been "spending a lot of time brainstorming with Scott Brown," and proved it by echoing Brown's best punch line, when he said, "I cannot believe everyone has not been fired (at NOAA)."
But Tisei said Gloucester represents a broader model of a failed federal system, noting that the city's problems extend beyond mismanagement by NOAA to include an unfunded $60 million mandate of the Environmental Protection Agency for a modernized and expanded sewer treatment plant.
The National Republican Campaign Committee also considers Tisei very electable.
Politico, the D.C.-based web publication, reported last week that the committee has anointed Tisei as one of their 12 "young guns," making Tierney a priority target for the GOP, and all but guaranteeing a pipeline of national financing for Tisei.
Also, a poll leaked Tuesday by National Republican Party pollster John McLaughlin showed Tisei leading Tierney, 40 percent to 33 percent, with the rest undecided.
Tisei already out-raised Tierney in the last two quarterly reporting cycles, as the Times reported in April, though, at the end of the last reporting period, Tierney still held a nearly a 2-1 advantage in campaign finances, thanks to a head start and money left over from previous campaigns. Tierney had $795,000 and Tisei about $454,000, as of the April reporting period.
Among his political credentials, Tisei, 50, won an upset election in a heavily Democratic district to earn a seat in the state Senate, then served as chairman of William Weld's successful campaign for governor in 1990.
He was state Senate minority leader for a small band that included Scott Brown, now running for re-election to the U.S. Senate seat he won after the death of Edward M. Kennedy in 2010, and Sen. Bruce Tarr of Gloucester, who is now the minority leader.
He emphasized his own qualifications mostly, but did say that, with his party almost certain to maintain control of the House, "being the in the majority will be huge," adding that his voting record is similar to that of Brown and Tarr.
"Tierney," by contrast," Tisei noted, "votes 99 percent with (the Democratic) leadership."
That drew a rebuke from the Tierney campaign.
"John Tierney has always fought for middle-class families in the district and remains committed to making sure that everyone can achieve the American dream," Grant Herring, communications director for Tierney's re-election team, said in an email to the Times. "He will always put his constituents first, unlike Richard Tisei who supports Speaker (John) Boehner, the Tea Party agenda that cuts Medicare, rolls back women's rights, and puts the interests of Wall Street over Main Street."
The 6th District was enlarged last year by the state Legislature during a redistricting to create nine seats where 10 had been in the past, reflecting the state's population shift according to the 2010 Census.
The additions of Billerica and Tewksbury and part of Andover are added to a district that Scott Brown won by a percentage margin of 63-37 over state Attorney General Martha Coakley in their January 2010 special election, Tisei noted.
Richard Gaines can be reached at 978-283-7000 x3464, or firstname.lastname@example.org.