By Jonathan Phelps
---- — SALEM — Congressman John Tierney started his bid for re-election with a $188,000 advantage over Republican challenger Richard Tisei, but Tierney’s campaign war chest took a big hit during the hotly contested race.
Now Tierney is reaching out to supporters, asking for money to beef up his campaign account even before being sworn into his ninth two-year term today.
After spending nearly $2.2 million over the course of the race, his account shrank to less than $21,000, according to campaign finance reports.
Tierney beat Tisei by less than 1 percent of the vote last November, after a bruising campaign in which he was outspent and dogged by a gambling scandal involving his wife and brothers-in-law.
“In 2012, our campaign raised more money than we ever have,” Tierney wrote in an email sent last week. “We now need to rebuild our campaign coffers and show strength early in 2013.”
Tierney wrote that Republican Tea Party leaders made him ‘‘their No. 1 target in 2012’’ and won’t hesitate to try again. “We can send a strong message that the 6th District is not Tea Party country and is certainly not for sale,” he wrote.
Outside groups spent more than $3.5 million to support Tisei or attack Tierney, while $1.6 million was spent by outside groups supporting Tierney and opposing Tisei.
The race drew national attention, as the GOP viewed this as an election it could win.
Drew Russo, finance director for Tierney’s campaign, said Tierney is continuing to raise money for the next election, like many other congressmen across the country.
“Voters in our communities spoke in November and sent John Tierney back to Congress to fight for their shared priorities,” Russo said in an email to the Times’ sister paper, The Salem News. “Congressman Tierney is committed to that responsibility and as always will ensure he has the resources available in 2014 to continue to serve our families.”
Dan Mulcare, assistant professor of political science at Salem State University, said it is typical for politicians to continue fundraising immediately after elections.
“People win and then a day or two later, before they are even sworn in, they start raising money. They raise money all the time,” he said. “It is a sad state of affairs in our country where a lot of times Congress members are raising money instead of meeting with their constituents or working on legislation.”
Mulcare said Tierney’s campaign most likely took a fundraising hit because of the gambling scandal.
Tierney started his campaign with $188,235 and raised about $2.1 million starting in January 2011, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Starting in October 2011, Tisei raised about $2.3 million starting from scratch. Tisei’s bank account has been reduced to about $2,648, according to the filings.
Tierney didn’t have to spend as much money when Republican Bill Hudak ran against him, which allowed him to save up the $188,000, Mulcare said.
Jonathan Phelps may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.