When Representative John Tierney’s wife pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges of helping her brother falsify his tax filings, it was an unsettling October surprise for the Salem Democrat. But Tierney’s Republican opponent at the time, Bill Hudak, could not capitalize. A far-right candidate dogged by image problems of his own — like publicity about a sign he once put on his lawn comparing Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden — Hudak lost by a wide margin.
But Tierney’s bid for a ninth term has been far more difficult. Patrice Tierney’s legal proceedings generated a stream of potentially damaging headlines, and the congressman is facing a far more formidable opponent this year.