The following was submitted by Chase Schaub, a student at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School.
On Thursday afternoon, the voters of the Massachusetts Sixth Congressional District were given their first chance to see the Congressional candidates spar on a variety of issues at North Shore Community College in Lynn - hosted by MassINC.
This debate was focused on "The American Dream," discussing issues mainly having to do with the current economic situation in our country. The debate featured the three candidates running for the Congressional Seat: The incumbent Congressman John Tierney, his Republican challenger Richard Tisei and Libertarian Candidate Daniel Fishman.
Before this debate many news outlets reported that Tierney’s campaign had told MassINC that no questions about his controversial family tax issues be asked or he would refuse the debate. The moderator of the debate made it clear beforehand that no questions had been filtered out, although there is still concern over whether or not this was true.
Overall, this debate offered up a clear winner, and a very obvious choice for the voters of the Sixth District. Richard Tisei came out strong and remained on point and focused throughout the entire debate. Point by point, Tisei laid out his bipartisan plan to fix Washington and help the voters of our district, while at the same time pointing out the flaws in Tierney’s record.
One of the strongest points made by Tisei was about the Congressman’s vote on the medical device tax. Tierney voted for a medical device tax and defended it during the debate by saying “the businesses wanted it.” It was a claim Tisei was quick to rebut. Clearly, a medical device tax is bad for the people of this district, because we are home to some of the largest medical device companies in the country, many of whom say this tax will force them to stop hiring and in some cases will cause them to lay off workers. This point made Tisei look strong and showed he was connected with the voters while showing John Tierney is out of touch with his own district. This showed a stark difference between Tisei and the Congressman.
Throughout the debate, and campaign, we have seen many parallels between the Congressional race and the Scott Brown vs. Elizabeth Warren race, where the Democrats try to line up their opponents with the Washington Republicans. Massachusetts Democrats would have a much easier race if they were running against the Romney-Ryan presidential ticket and not moderates like Scott Brown and Richard Tisei, and Tisei made that clear during Thursday’s debate when Tierney tried to link him with the House Republicans. Tisei cited his bipartisan record in the Massachusetts State Senate where members of his own party would often grow frustrated because of his bipartisanship, voting with Democrats almost half of the time. Tierney continuously tried to make the assertion that Tisei is “too extreme,” even though he is a socially liberal, openly gay Republican. This was yet another point where Tisei shined and Tierney struggled, at some points Tierney was even being booed by the audience while attempting to make this argument. This exchange allowed Tisei to explain the value of bipartisanship to our country and showing that Tierney has voted with his own party 99 percent of time and is not willing to compromise with Republicans in order to get things done. In this mess we are in, its time for a bipartisan approach and Tisei was a breath of fresh air offering a real, grown-up, compromise approach to our many issues.
Furthermore, during the entire hour-long debate, not one question was asked about the Congressmen’s financial troubles that landed his wife in prison and has raised questions about what the Congressman knew about his wife’s family's gambling operation. This is yet another area where Tierney is extremely vulnerable and an area he has yet to fully address during this campaign, undermining his credibility as a candidate. I gave Tierney a chance to respond to these allegations, but when I asked the Congressman outside before the debate he declined to comment on the issue.
In the end, the debate left the voters of the Sixth District with a crystal clear choice. Tisei is the bipartisan voice for the people of this district, who will fight for you. Congressman Tierney has too many unaddressed personal issues to even be considered as a viable contender. Tisei showed voters that he is on their side, fighting for small business and middle class Americans. Tisei is willing to compromise with anyone to do what is in the best interest for the voters of this district.