Rep. John Tierney (D)
Elected: 1996, 7th term.
Born: Sept. 18, 1951, Salem .
Education: Salem St. Col., B.A. 1973, Suffolk U., J.D. 1976.
Religion: no religious affiliation.
Family: Married (Patrice).
Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1976–96.
The congressman from the 6th District is John Tierney, a Democrat elected in 1996. Tierney grew up in Salem in modest circumstances. He worked his way through Salem State College and Suffolk University Law School as a janitor on the night shift and as a clerk at a Boston law firm. For nearly 20 years, he practiced law in Salem. In 1994, he spied a political opening and ran for Congress. The incumbent, Peter Torkildsen, was a Republican elected in 1992 by beating veteran Democrat Nicholas Mavroules, who had been indicted on tax evasion and bribery charges. But in a year highly favorable to Republicans as 1994 was, Torkildsen managed to defeat Tierney by only 51%-47%. In 1996, Tierney ran again. His ads, along with the AFL-CIO’s, assailed House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican, and GOP cutbacks in Medicare. He called for health care insurance for children and criticized Torkildsen for not bringing enough defense dollars to the district. Torkildsen spent $1.1 million, while keeping his promise to accept no political action committee money. Tierney had $776,000 to spend, and he concentrated it on a blitz close to the election. The result was one of the closest races in the country. After several recounts, which stretched into December, Tierney won by 371 votes.
|John Tierney (D)||226,216||(70%)||($498,041)|
|Richard Baker (R)||94,845||(30%)||($28,082)|
|John Tierney (D)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (70%), 2004 (70%), 2002 (68%), 2000 (71%), 1998 (55%), 1996 (48%)
In the House, Tierney has been a solid ally of labor unions on the Education and Labor Committee and a consistently liberal vote. His work on that panel has included support for alternative paths to teaching, gang- and drug-free schools, and strengthened vocational education. In the 2008 higher education bill, Tierney won an amendment to penalize states that fail to meet budget benchmarks for college aid. He has been a leader among those Democrats trying to reduce prescription drug costs for senior citizens. Tierney has also raised questions with federal regulators about security procedures at the Seabrook nuclear plant in New Hampshire. In 2007, he joined the Intelligence Committee and also became chairman of the National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where he led the March 2007 hearings into poor conditions for patients at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. “My question is, where have you been?” Tierney asked Army officials. In April 2008, he questioned the growing sales of military equipment on eBay and other websites. The House defeated his amendment in May 2008 to strip $966 million from missile defense programs. Tierney is well connected to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. For several years, his top aide was her daughter Christine, who later became a political consultant in San Francisco.
Torkildsen challenged Tierney in a 1998 rubber match, but Tierney won 55%-42%. He has faced token opposition since then.