DANVERS — A raucous debate featuring 6th District congressional candidates John Tierney, Richard Tisei and Daniel Fishman not only featured testy exchanges among the candidates, but in the audience as well.
Moderator David Olson, editor of The Salem News, struggled to control the crowd inside the auditorium at Danvers High School, as boos, shouts, insults, jeers and cheers were hurled up toward the stage with vigor and sometimes genuine anger.
Fittingly, the subject that drew the most ire — from the crowd and candidates — was the tenor of the campaign itself, which has seen millions spent on sometimes malicious negative advertising and personal attacks.
“I am disappointed the tone has turned out to be what it is. I have always run positive campaigns, and everything I am responsible for I have tried to be positive,” said Tisei, the Republican challenger to Tierney, the eight-term Democratic incumbent. “Some of the ads Tierney has run are over-the-top. ... I must be the only person in the country who is pro-gay marriage, pro-choice, who did not sign the Grover Norquist tax pledge to be attacked and labeled an extremist. ... It speaks more about the congressman’s credibility than mine.”
Tierney and the Democratic Party have launched ads calling Tisei a right-wing extremist, while Republican super PACs, and the Young Guns Network in particular, have been relentless in attacking the congressman about the illegal offshore gambling enterprise that ultimately sent his wife and brother-in-law to jail, while another brother-in-law remains a fugitive.
“Let’s be perfectly clear on one thing: Richard Tisei is responsible for all of the ads of the Young Guns and the right-wing extremists,” Tierney retorted, adding that Tisei would not agree to a campaign pact barring outside money. “You wouldn’t because you know you went down to Washington and asked them to run strategy for your campaign and took $3 million of their money to run the sleaziest and misleading advertising campaigns.”