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Tierney, Tisei face off in first debate

LYNN — Republican challenger Richard R. Tisei said he could work with Democrats, but Democratic US Representative John F. Tierney scoffed at that assertion, in a 6th Congressional District debate today.

“I have a record of being able to work with Democrats,” Tisei said in the debate at North Shore Community College. “I don’t just talk the bipartisan talk, I walk the bipartisan walk.”

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But Tierney said it was “comical” to hear Tisei talk about being bipartisan, charging that 99 percent of the time in Tisei’s State House career he had sided with the Republicans.

Tierney also argued that, once in Congress, Tisei would vote for Representative Paul Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman now running for vice president, and Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, and other “ideological extremists” as leaders.

Tierney, who has served eight terms, is getting a strong challenge from Tisei, a former state senator and a one-time lieutenant governor nominee of his party.

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The two candidates also jousted over the issue of tax cuts, with Tierney saying he wanted to let Bush-era tax cuts expire for the wealthy, but Tisei saying he wanted to extend the cuts for all income levels.

Tierney said that the cuts should be continued for the 98 percent of taxpayers who make less than $250,000. He said Republican insistence on maintaining the tax cuts for taxpayers of all incomes, including the other 2 percent, was “brinkmanship.”

Tierney also charged that Tisei’s first and most important vote would be for the Republican budget proposed by Ryan.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Tisei responded.

Also participating in today’s debate was Libertarian candidate Daniel Fishman.

Asked during a lightning round for one-word reactions to the Occupy movement, Tisei said, “fraudulent;” Tierney said, “awareness;” and Fishman said, “enlightening.”

Questions about a gambling business run by the brother of Tierney’s wife, Patrice, were expected to arise during the debate, but never came up. Tisei said after the debate that he didn’t bring up the issue in deference to debate organizers who wanted a strict focus on issues.

Neither did questions about the candidates’ taxes.

The Globe reported Wednesday that Tisei released 10 years of returns, showing that he paid no taxes in 2006 and 2008. Tierney released six years of returns that did not include about $223,000 that prosecutors say his wife received from his brother-in-law’s gambling business in Antigua, the Globe reported Thursday.

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