November 7, 2012 at 7:49 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Gay Republican falls short in Mass.
Richard Tisei, Republican, Massachusetts, gay news, Washington Blade

Richard Tisei (photo courtesy of Tisei)

Massachusetts incumbent Democratic Rep. John Tierney won re-election Tuesday in a tight race over challenger Richard Tisei, a gay Republican.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Tierney led by a slim 48-47 percent.

Tierney had attacked Tisei as a Tea Party Republican in the final weeks of the campaign.

“I’m the only gay, pro-choice Republican who wouldn’t sign the [Grover] Norquist pledge being called an extremist anywhere in the country,” Tisei told the Washington Blade during an interview in Boston last month. “It’s funny because people who know me find it laughable. I don’t think he’s realized how much he’s damaged his own credibility. Trying to paint me as some type of right wing extremist is just so off-the-wall that it damages his own credibility.”

Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio,) former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the Boston Globe are among those that endorsed Tisei’s campaign. The Victory Fund also backed the former state Senate minority leader.

Retiring gay Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank said in September that he feels Tisei would be “no use to us in Congress” on LGBT issues. Supporters are quick to note Tisei was an early supporter of marriage rights for same-sex couples in the commonwealth and adding gender identity and expression to the Massachusetts anti-discrimination law.

Tisei’s campaign benefitted from the ongoing scandal surrounding Tierney’s wife and brothers-in-law’s involvement in an illegal gambling ring.

“A lot of people in the district are ready for a change and they are looking for a different type of congressman than we have right now,” Tisei told the Blade. “I’ve gotten a great reception from folks.”


Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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