By michael Phillis
As he seeks re-election next year, Congressman John Tierney must cope not only with an expanded district and more independent voters, but also with a new and experienced Republican challenger.
Former state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei says he will seek the seat and formally announce his candidacy next week.
The Wakefield Republican's decision to run came as state legislators earlier this week unveiled proposed new congressional districts, adding Billerica, Tewksbury and part of Andover to the Tierney's 6th District.
The district, which includes all of Cape Ann, stretches from Newburyport and Gloucester to Lynn.
Tisei, who as the lieutenant governor running mate of Republican gubernatorial challenger Charlie Baker in 2010, is expected to formally announce his congressional candidacy in Wakefield on Tuesday. He will join a race that, despite the election being a year away, already includes Boxford lawyer Bill Hudak, who challenged Tierney last year.
"I really feel strongly that people are hurting right now and what we have isn't working," said Tisei.
Tierney, a Salem Democrat, was elected to a ninth term last year, beating Hudak by almost 14 percentage points. The victory, in a heated campaign, came as Tierney also dealt with the fallout from his wife pleading guilty to federal charges that she helped her fugitive brother file false tax returns.
With unemployment high, both parties said their campaigns must focus on the economy.
Tierney political consultant Michael Goldman said the congressman will run on his record.
"The Republican Party has been very clear that they are not willing to ask a very small wealthy group to do their fair share," Goldman said, adding that Tierney has a history of working to keep Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid intact.
The three towns that have been added to the 6th District have a large number of elderly residents who care deeply about those issues, Goldman said.
Tisei, however, believes voters will relate to his economic message.
"I talked to a lot of people in all walks of life, and the direction that the country is headed in right now is just not good, and people recognize that," he said.
Bloated government spending, overzealous regulations and massive debt are handicapping the American economy, Tisei said.
"John Tierney has supported policies that have ground our economy to a halt, and we have to get it moving again," he said. "The way to do it is to allow small businesses the flexibility and predictability to create jobs."
Hudak said he also sees 2012 as a promising opportunity for a candidacy.
"(There is) zero question this race will be much more competitive," Hudak said.
Hudak and Tisei will first face off in the Republican primary, also almost 10 months away.
Tisei gave Hudak credit for his 2010 campaign. "Bill ... showed that the district is a winnable district with the right candidate," he said.
"I don't think (redistricting) changes anything," Goldman said. "(Tierney's) record is there. His work product is there" for voters to see.