BOSTON — Massachusetts has 10 congressional districts, all of which are occupied by Democratic members, and in its quest to retake Congress and re-install Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House, the party hadn’t worried that it might lose one of them.
But that’s exactly the situation with less than five weeks till Election Day, as Rep. John Tierney (pictured, at right) trails Richard Tisei, a social liberal — and openly gay — Republican challenger. Tisei (pictured, at left) is a seasoned state legislator, but what put the race in Massachusetts’ 6th District in play was a Tierney family gambling scandal. The congressman wasn’t implicated, but his wife spent a month in prison for “willful blindness” regarding the involvement of one of her brothers.
The chance that voters would reverse Republicans’ huge 2010 midterm win always seemed improbable, even to Democratic Party officials. But as in any closely contended election, the picture of the unfolding stretch run is muddled because it involves an uncertain combination of local and national politics.
And so it goes in the handful of competitive House races across the country. Here in Boston, the wisdom of local legend Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill is still invoked often. “All politics is local,” the former House speaker was fond of saying. But in a presidential year, all politics are simultaneously national.