To the editor:
About a year ago, I wrote a letter to the Times in which I expressed my hope that John Tierney would consider stepping aside to clear the way for a new Democrat unencumbered by the kind of baggage with which Tierney's family's legal woes have burdened him.
At that time, I expressed my belief that Gloucester's state representative, Ann-Margaret Ferrante, was someone who, with enough time to increase her name recognition throughout the district, would have made one heck of a candidate.
I still believe that to be true. Alas, John Tierney opted not to step aside.
And now, with the most recent accusations by his brother-in-law that Tierney knew all along about his in-laws' criminal activities, Tierney is perhaps more vulnerable today than he was when the story first broke before the last election in the fall of 2010.
Unlike the last time, when Tierney faced an opponent whose often bizarre behavior and odd comments were deemed more troubling by a majority of district voters than the unfolding scandal rocking Tierney's family, Tierney is now facing a credible opponent who, by all accounts, is an intelligent and decent guy.
Tierney has represented the district well through the years; that cannot be denied.
But the many unanswered questions surrounding his family's criminal's activities and his knowledge of those activities, coupled with him facing an opponent of the caliber of Richard Tisei, could well mean the district goes Republican this year.
If that happens, Tisei will also face unique challenges of his own.
Tisei is cut from the same bolt of GOP cloth that produced honorable public servants like former governors William Weld and Francis Sargent of Massachusetts, Gov. Christie Todd Whitman of New Jersey, and U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine.
He is not cut from the GOP bolt of cloth that has produced the angry, far right Tea Party types who swept into Congress in 2010.
He is, in fact, the type of Republican many of those Tea Party types disparagingly, even hatefully, refer to as "RINOs — Republicans In Name Only".
If he is elected, one has to wonder how effectively he will be able to represent the district, especially if the House remains in the hands of the increasingly intransigent right wing,
Tea Party types who have made clear they have no use for Republicans like Richard Tisei or compromising with their Democratic "enemies".
It is all quite bizarre and, no matter who prevails in November in the 6th District, just more evidence of how polarized and ugly American politics have become in recent years.