Two weeks before voters go to the polls, incumbent John Tierney appears to be fighting an uphill battle to keep the job he’s held for 16 years.
His opponent, Republican Richard Tisei of Wakefield, has raised more money; an internal GOP poll has Tisei with a 17-point lead; and two Washington political newsletters, The Hill and The Rothenberg Report, recently changed their handicapping of the race from a toss-up to leaning Republican.
Yet the eight-term Salem Democrat insists that any struggles are overblown and he remains confident.
“We will push hard to the end, and we will win,” Tierney said in an interview, adding that his campaign’s internal polls have him “one or two points ahead” with a large number of undecided voters.
“Of course, we knew it was going to be close when you have $3 million to $4 million in outside and special-interest money coming in, where they don’t play by any rules but nasty and negative,” Tierney said.
“There are a lot of undecided folks out there we think we can get to come around, and we will get out there and work hard and do that.”
Tisei remains cautiously optimistic and seems to prefer the underdog role heading into the campaign’s home stretch. That stretch will include the final debate involving the two major party rivals and Libertarian Daniel Fishman, who square off Friday morning at 8 in a Cruiseport Gloucester debate sponsored and hosted by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m in an uphill battle. It’s really hard to defeat someone as entrenched as John Tierney,” Tisei said in a separate interview.
“I’m not looking at the polls or taking anything for granted. We have a plan in place, and we’re going to follow it. We’re working hard. I am all over the place right now doing my best to get known, to talk to undecided voters and raise money.”