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November 24, 2011

GOP sees Rep. Tierney as vulnerable in 2012

WASHINGTON — Faced with a newly drawn congressional district, his wife's legal woes and more fallout from his brother-in-law's federal racketeering and money laundering trial, U.S. Rep. John Tierney is facing Republican candidates eager to take back the North Shore Democrat's seat next year.

"When Democratic incumbents lose in Massachusetts, it is usually related to redistricting and some scandal," said longtime GOP strategist Rob Gray. "Everything has to go your way for a Republican to win a congressional seat in Massachusetts."

Tierney, who was a Salem attorney before winning his Sixth Congressional District seat in 1996, declined to be interviewed for this story.

"While the Republican candidates work to defend their party's unpopular positions, such as cutting funding from Pell Grants, ending Social Security, and increasing the tax burden on middle class families, John remains focused on advocating for our concerns and strengthening our community's shared priorities," Kathryn Prael, a Tierney spokeswoman, said in an emailed statement.

Gray said Tierney looks to be the most vulnerable Democrat among the state's congressional delegation, but he expects an uphill fight for the GOP in a blue state where President Barack Obama's presence at the top of the ticket could bump up Democratic turnout. Tierney has strong labor support and a cash advantage with more than $441,000 in his campaign account as of the end of September.

Former state senator Richard Tisei of Wakefield, a moderate who built up his name recognition as the 2010 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, hopes to emerge as the GOP challenger against Tierney. Bill Hudak, a conservative who lost to Tierney last year by a 57-43 percent margin, will face Tisei in the primary. Hudak, of Boxford, had $3,352 in his campaign account as of Sept. 30. Tisei formally entered the race this month.

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