House Speaker John Boehner slipped quietly into Boston on Friday morning for a fundraiser for two New Hampshire congressmen in tough races and one local candidate who may be the Republicans’ best chance of picking up a US House seat in Massachusetts.
Boehner’s fundraiser, at the Taj Boston hotel, drew about 75 people. Attendees were asked to donate $2,500 to a joint fundraising committee, the New England Victory Fund, that will benefit Richard Tisei in Massachusetts, and US Representatives Charles Bass and Frank Guinta in New Hampshire. Both of them are trying to fend off tough Democratic challengers.
The speaker’s event was another indication that national Republicans see Tisei’s race against incumbent Democrat John Tierney as their best chance to pick up a House seat in Massachusetts, which last had a Republican congressman in 1997. It also reflects how seriously Republicans are taking the challenges against Bass and Guinta.
“I’m honored that the speaker would come in and think highly enough of my race that he’s willing to come to Boston and participate in a joint fundraiser,” said Tisei, a former minority leader of the state Senate. “Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and the Democratic leadership are pulling out all the stops for John Tierney right now, so I appreciate that help.”
Boehner swooped into Boston without any announcement from the state or national Republican parties, or the candidates he is supporting. The Ohio Republican was visiting a state where President Obama, his frequent rival in Washington, remains popular. Tisei argued that his relationship with Boehner should not be seen as a liability, but as an asset.
He pointed out that US House is controlled by Republicans, leaving Massachusetts without a member in the ruling party.
“When decisions are being made in the House of Representatives, having someone who has a good relationship with the speaker and the leadership would be beneficial to the state,” Tisei said.
Boehner’s fundraiser was not the first time Tisei has received help from national Republicans.
Earlier this week, the National Republican Congressional Committee announced that it had reserved $2.2 million in advertising time on Boston-area television stations for the fall, in large part to help Tisei, Bass and Guinta.
In April, Ken Mehlman, President George W. Bush’s campaign manager in 2004 and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, hosted a high-dollar fundraiser for Tisei at his home in the Chelsea section of Manhattan.
Mehlman, who came out as gay in 2010, has been helping to raise money for Republicans who support gay marriage. Tisei, a 49-year-old real estate agent and same-sex marriage supporter, would be the first Republican who has come out as gay before being elected to Congress.
Michael Levenson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mlevenson.