By Ryan Collett
In Massachusetts, Richard Tisei could become US Congress’ first openly gay Republican. Tisei seeks to unseat Massachusetts’ current Representative, John Tierney, a Democrat seeking his 9th term.
Tisei has previously served 26 years in the Massachusetts state legislature and was the 2010 Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor before losing in the general election. Most recently, Tisei has been the Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader, a position he held for four years. In November 2011, Tisei announced his bid for Congress.
While his campaign as a gay Republican for US Congress holds historical significance, Tisei says he wants to be known more for his moderate views. Tisei is pro-gay marriage and pro-abortion rights; and – despite his more fiscally conservative views – sees no problem with government funding for Planned Parenthood.
“I consider myself a ‘live and let live Republican’ – the government should get out of your bedroom, off your back and out of your wallet,” said Tisei in an interview with political news source The Hill.
Tisei also sees his being gay as a non-issue in his campaign, promising to work closely and cooperatively with GOP leadership, but also push them on social issues – particularly the Defense of Marriage act which he deems unconstitutional.
Deeper shades of conservatism lie on the economic side of Tisei’s politics. He supports the repealing of the Democrats’ national healthcare reform law – a law he called “a work in progress” not necessarily ready for a nationwide venue.
“America is in a lot of trouble when it comes to debt, this whole idea that free enterprise is a bad thing,” said Tisei. “I’ll line up closely with leadership on a lot of those issues. Gov. Romney is basically right – the goal in our country should be to get everyone insured and the role of the federal government, rather than push a ‘one size fits all’ solution, should be to provide incentives for every state to innovate.”
Tisei supports a reformation of the healthcare law, but wants to keep portions of the bill that require pre-existing condition coverage and allow children to remain on their parents’ healthcare plans until age 26.
So far, Tisei’s campaign has raised more money than any of his opponents including the incumbent Rep. Tierney. Most recently, Tisei has brought in an estimated $50,000 from high-profile Republicans, among them Speaker John Boehner and the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Tisei’s lead in the congressional bid comes at a time when his chief opponent, Rep. Tierney, faces heated controversy following revelations about his family’s involvement in illegal gambling operations and tax fraud.