A razor-thin margin separated Congressman John Tierney and Republican rival Richard Tisei in a 6th Congressional race still too close to call at press time last night.
As polls trickled in, the lead oscillated back-and-forth, with Democratic incumbent Tierney clinging to a slim 48.4 percent to 47.2 percent lead. Several communities, including Newburyport, Billerica, Essex and Rockport, still had not reported.
As expected, Tisei did well in the western and northwestern parts of the district, while Tierney dominated the cities, including wins in Salem, Peabody, Beverly and Lynn.
North Andover voters interviewed yesterday overwhelmingly favored Tisei. Donald Elliott, 59, of Main Street, said he voted for Tisei because Tierney “carries too much baggage.
Larry Coughlin, 25, of Forest Street, said the “whole thing with the illegal gambling operation of his brothers-in-law” prompted him to vote for Tisei.
Torsten and Patricia Schwanbeck, of Carlton Lane, both said they voted for Tisei because they have friends who know him and have vouched for his character.
Rita O’Neill, 52, of Forest Street, voted for the eight-term congressman, saying he deserves “the benefit of the doubt.”
Tierney was seeking his ninth term in Congress, and Tisei was vying to became the first Republican congressman from Massachusetts in 16 years, and the first openly gay, non-incumbent Republican ever elected to Congress.
The mood at the Hawthorne Hotel, where Tierney held his election-night party, was increasingly hopeful as the night went on, and cities like Lynn, Salem and Peabody appeared to be turning out strongly for Tierney.
“We’re hoping the momentum is going to carry us through the rest of the night,” Salem state Rep. John Keenan said.
By 11:15, there were still about 200 people in the ballroom waiting for Tierney to enter and make what they hoped would be a victory speech.