Oh Snap: John Tierney Lost His Primary

Daniel Doherty
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Posted: Sep 10, 2014 11:00 AM
Oh Snap: John Tierney Lost His Primary

Who is Rep. John Tierney? Well, one might say he is a nine-term, possibly corrupt Democratic congressman from Massachusetts. On the other hand, one might also say he is the first Massachusetts lawmaker to lose a congressional primary since 1992.

The Boston Globe reports:

Seth Moulton, a Harvard Business School graduate and Marine veteran, on Tuesday became the first Massachusetts Democrat in 22 years to oust a sitting congressman from his own party, decisively defeating embattled nine-term Representative John F. Tierney and setting the stage for an unpredictable general election in November.

Tierney, the veteran North Shore congressman, has been politically vulnerable since 2010 when his wife, Patrice, was convicted on federal tax charges in connection with her brothers’ illegal offshore betting operation. But after twice prevailing against Republican challengers, he was felled in Tuesday’s primary by a fellow Democrat who appealed to voters’ frustration with intransigence in Washington and made a compelling case for change.

This, too, might also have had something to do with it:

But both the Boston Globe and Boston Herald editorial boards, which rarely agree on anything, endorsed Moulton, both mentioning the scandal in their endorsements and both saying it's time for a change.

Arguably, two of the Bay State’s most influential newspapers essentially told voters to back Tierney’s opponent, Seth Moulton, instead of him. His loss thus ends what can only be described as the retiring congressman's long and unremarkable stint in Washington. As the Globe reports, for example, the Moulton campaign continually reminded voters that after nearly two decades as an elected representative, their opponent “passed just one bill.”

Moulton must now take on GOP hopeful Richard Tisei in the general election -- a former minority leader in the Massachusetts state Senate and a former candidate for lieutenant governor. As you might recall, Tisei nearly beat Tierney in 2012. How, then, one might ask, are his prospects faring now that Tierney’s not the nominee?

Politico has some insight:

Moulton, 35, will face moderate, openly gay Republican Richard Tisei, 52, in the fall campaign. Tisei narrowly lost to Tierney, who’s been plagued by a gambling scandal involving his wife and brother-in-law, in 2012. Although the race is still expected to be close, Moulton backers have argued he’s a better candidate to take on Tisei than the scandal-ridden Tierney.

That’s probably true. And yet there’s only been one poll conducted assessing this matchup. About a week ago, the Emerson College pollsters found that Moulton edged Tisei by 8 percentage points (44/36).

Still, there are at least a few caveats to consider: First, there’s obviously a dearth of polling in the race, so these top-line numbers can -- and should -- be viewed with suspicion. Second, the poll was conducted at a time when many Democrats thought Tierney was going to be the nominee. And so now that he’s been ousted, and relegated to lame-duck status, preferences could, perhaps, change over the next two months.

We’ll see.