EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 31, 2012

Tisei seeking to make history

(Continued)

Tisei believes his party, which passed the Defense of Marriage Act and voted overwhelmingly against repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” is simply wrong on gay rights.

Tisei doesn’t have a flawless record, either, voting in the 1980s against a law that banned discrimination of gays and lesbians in employment and housing; he also once voted to prohibit the state from placing foster children with gay couples. When asked his biggest regret, he points to those votes. Since then Tisei has championed equal rights causes, including marriage equality in Massachusetts, filing anti-bullying legislation, and supporting bills to help the disabled and enhance individual rights.

“I would say I’m a traditional New England Republican — the whole idea that you can be fiscally conservative but also libertarian when it comes to social issues, that you believe the government should not be involved in individual decision-making when it comes to an issue like abortion.”

Tisei, 50, found the Republican Party, like so many his age, through President Ronald Reagan. As a college student, he interned in the office of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. His duty one year was to organize Reagan’s 72nd birthday party in the White House.

“This is my prized possession,” he said, pointing above his desk to an autographed photograph of Reagan wearing a cowboy hat that Tisei and the rest of the staff gave him as a present.

The battle

Tisei has capitalized on problems with Tierney’s credibility. The 6th District campaign narrative has been dominated by what Tierney knew or didn’t about an illegal gambling enterprise run by his brothers-in-law in Antigua. His wife, who managed a bank account for her brother, accepted thousands of dollars from him in gifts and served a month in jail for her role in helping him file false tax returns. Tierney has not been charged with any wrongdoing and says he didn’t know the business was illegal.

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