I currently have four friends/colleagues who are running for Congress this year – two Democrats, two Republicans. Below is the third of the profiles on each candidate.
I am doing this in part because too often people dismiss those running for public office as tainted by the political process, when there truly are many good people who just want to serve their country.
MASSACHUSETTS – 6TH DISTRICT
Rich and I were classmates and, oddly enough, fraternity brothers in AEPi at American University. AEPi is traditionally a Jewish fraternity, but at American where the on-campus population was majority Jewish, the need for a Jewish fraternity was less and thus our pledge class consisted one Jew, five goys and (unbeknown to me at the time) three gays.
While at American, the Republican Rich interned in the Reagan White House and his first job out of college was serving in the Massachusetts House (a campaign he ran out of his dorm room with this roommate as campaign manager). He was the youngest Republican ever elected to the House.
In 1990 he moved up to State Senate, where he served until 2011. He was named legislator of the Year by the Massachusetts Alliance for the Mentally Ill, The Human Service Providers of Massachusetts and the Home Health Care Association Of Massachusetts. Tisei had a 100% rating from MASS NARAL and Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts. He was also a supporter of same-sex marriage.
In 2010, Rich was named as Charlie Baker’s running mate for Governor of Massachusetts. Just before doing so, he revealed to the Boston Globe that he was gay (he married his partner in 2013). The Baker-Tisei ticket lost to Governor Duval Patrrick 48-42 percent.
In 2012, Rich ran for Congress against a vulnerable Democratic incumbent John Tierney, a narrowly lost (48.2% – 47.2) in the closest race in New England.
Rich is renewing his quest for that seat, but there have been a few bumps along the way:
- Tisei announced on March 21, 2014, that he would not attend the state Republican convention because of his opposition to the state committee’s more socially conservative platform.The Massachusetts Republican State Committee approved language in its party platform in February 2014 that included opposition to abortion and gay marriage. “I don’t want to go and be seen in any way to be endorsing that. I don’t really feel comfortable being at a convention where the platform takes the party backward, rather than forward, as far as appealing to a large group of Massachusetts voters,” Tisei said. Although House Speaker Boehner has campaigned for Rich.
- He is no longer challenging a vulnerable incumbent, as Tierney was upset in the primary by a Iraq War Vet Seth Moulton.
Rich told the Washington Post, “I consider myself a Goldwater conservative. My philosophy is, I’m a live-and-let-live Republican. My philosophy is, the government should get off your back, out of your wallet and away from the bedroom.”
I have great respect for Rich and his long-term success as a Republican in Democratic Massachusetts speaks volumes. I admire his courage in coming out and taking on the more extreme elements in his party. But at the end of the day, he is still advocating some of the same conservative positions – including repeal of Obamacare. He also has tried to play the fear card on Ebola, calling for a ban on flights with Ebola plagued countries (there are none).
I think the case for Rich was much stronger when it was against an ethically-challenged Democrat, but his opponent Seth Moulton is quite impressive – a Marine who did multiple tours in Iraq and got a Masters in business and public policy from Harvard while serving. In this current climate, while I wish Rich the best and know he would be a great Congressman, I cannot endorse him for this position.
|Massachusetts’s 6th congressional district – since January 3, 2013.|
|Current Representative||John F. Tierney (D–Salem)|
|Distribution||63.15% urban, 36.85% rural|
0.2% Native American,
|Occupation||17.2% blue collar,
69.7% white collar,
13.1% gray collar
Largest City: Lynn
Population: 90,329 (2013)
Cook Political Report Rating