Richard Tisei

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Richard Tisei
Minority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2011
Preceded byBrian Lees
Succeeded byBruce Tarr
Member of the Massachusetts Senate
from the Middlesex and Essex district
In office
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2011
Preceded byJohn A. Brennan, Jr.
Succeeded byKatherine Clark
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
from the 22nd Middlesex district
In office
January 3, 1985 – January 3, 1991
Personal details
Born (1962-08-13) August 13, 1962 (age 57)
Somerville, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Bernie Starr (m. 2013)
ResidenceWakefield, Massachusetts
Alma materAmerican University
WebsiteCampaign website

Richard R. Tisei (/tɪˈs/; born August 13, 1962) is an American politician and realtor from Massachusetts. A Republican, he served in the Massachusetts General Court for 26 years, first in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, rising to become the Minority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. He was the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in 2010 and the nominee for Congress from Massachusetts's 6th district in 2012 and 2014.

A graduate of American University, Tisei was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1984. He was the youngest Republican ever elected to the Massachusetts General Court. Tisei served in the House until 1990, when he was elected to the Massachusetts Senate. He was elected Assistant Minority Leader in 1997 and Senate Minority Leader in January 2007. He was not able to run for re-election in 2010 after he was selected as Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker's running mate and his last Senate term ended in January 2011. Baker and Tisei lost to Democratic candidates Deval Patrick and Tim Murray by 6.41%.

Tisei ran for the United States House of Representatives in 2012, narrowly losing to seven-term Democratic incumbent John F. Tierney by 1.2%. He ran again in 2014 and faced former U.S. Marine Seth Moulton in the general election after Moulton defeated Tierney in the Democratic primary. Tisei was defeated again, this time by almost 14%. Tisei has received attention as one of the few openly gay Republicans to have run for Congress.

Early life, education, and early career[edit]

Tisei was born in Somerville, Massachusetts.[1][2] Tisei's grandparents were immigrants from Tivoli, Italy.[3] The son of a builder, he graduated from Lynnfield High School in Lynnfield, Massachusetts in 1981.[2]

Tisei received his B.A. from American University in 1984. A high school visit to the Massachusetts State House gave Tisei "the political bug."[4] In 1982, Tisei was an intern at the White House at the domestic office of Vice President George H. W. Bush.[2][5] Later, Tisei interned at the office of Massachusetts House Minority Leader William G. Robinson.[6]

Massachusetts House of Representatives (1985–1991)[edit]

In 1984, Tisei ran for the open 22nd Middlesex district seat of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Running as a Republican, Tisei defeated Democratic candidate Donald Flanagan, of Wakefield 11,189 to 8,263 and took office the following year.[7] Tisei was the youngest Republican ever elected to the Massachusetts House.[8] He won re-election in 1986 and 1988 with 77% of the vote.[9]

In 1990, he voted against Republican Minority Leader Steven Pierce's budget.[10]

Massachusetts Senate (1991–2011)[edit]

The district included Lynnfield, Malden, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, and Wakefield.


In 1990, incumbent Democratic State Senator John A. Brennan decided to retire. Tisei decided to retire his seat in the lower chamber to run for that open senate seat. He defeated Democrat Mike Festa and Independent Paul Maisano 54%–37%–9%.[11][12] He won re-election unopposed in 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2008. In 2000, he defeated Democrat Steve Spain 73%–27%.[13][14] In 2004, he defeated Katherine Clark 57%–43%.[15] In 2010, he decided to retire in order to run statewide. Clark ran again and won the seat.


As a member of the State Senate, Tisei served for many years as a member of the Joint Committee on Human Services and Elder Affairs.[16] He was named legislator of the Year by the Massachusetts Alliance for the Mentally Ill, The Human Service Providers of Massachusetts and the Home Health Care Association Of Massachusetts. Tisei had a 100% rating from MASS NARAL[17] and Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts. He was also a supporter of same-sex marriage.[18]

Tisei is known best for sponsoring the 1993 Welfare Reform Law and the Whistleblower Protection Law. He also sponsored legislation that would limit the amount of campaign funds candidates can rollover from year to year.[3][19]

He is a fiscal conservative and strongly supported a sales tax holiday.[20][21]

In a Washington Post article, he described himself as "a live-and-let-live Republican. My philosophy is, the government should get off your back, out of your wallet and away from the bedroom."[18]

Committee assignments[edit]

  • Bills in the Third Reading
  • Elder Affairs
  • Election Laws[22]
  • Mental Health and Substance Abuse
  • Municipalities and Regional Government
  • State Administration and Regulatory Oversight
  • Steering and Policy
  • Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development[23]
  • Ways and Means[24]
  • Redistricting[25]

Campaigns for higher office[edit]

In 1995, U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) encouraged Tisei to run against Democratic U.S. Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts's 7th congressional district. He decided not to challenge him in 1996.[26][27]

2010 statewide election[edit]

On July 28, 2009, Tisei was named the campaign chair for Charlie Baker's 2010 gubernatorial run. On November 23, 2009, Baker named Tisei as his running mate, and thus as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor.[4]

Just prior to the announcement of Tisei as Baker's running mate, Tisei publicly disclosed that he is gay for the first time in an interview with the Boston Globe.[28] Baker and Tisei, unopposed in the Republican primary, were defeated in the general election.

The Patrick/Murray ticket defeated Baker/Tisei 48%–42%. The Republican ticket carried Essex County 48%–43%, while they lost Middlesex County 51%–41%.[29] They won Wakefield, where Tisei currently resides, 56%–37%, and Lynnfield, where Tisei grew up, 66%–29%.[30][31]

2012 congressional election[edit]

In November 2011, Tisei announced his plans to challenge eight-term U.S. Congressman John F. Tierney (D-MA 6th).[32] The newly redrawn Massachusetts's 6th congressional district remained largely the same, but added Billerica, Tewksbury, and Andover.[33] This was a swing district where Scott Brown got 58% of the vote in January 2010 and where Baker/Tisei got 50% in the November 2010 gubernatorial election.[34] Tierney barely came out on top over Tisei, by 3,500 votes out of 374,244 cast.[35] The race was the closest in New England.[36]

Tisei’s campaign made a number of payments for a political consultant, campaign aides, a fundraiser, and a digital marketing firm in 2011 from a state campaign fund. David Scharfenberg of The Boston Globe speculated that the payments were to support his campaign for Congress. The Tisei campaign has noted that the payments were all made prior to his official declaration of candidacy for Congress and that they were for activities in support of a potential run for state-level office.[37]

2014 congressional election[edit]

Tisei ran against Democratic nominee Seth Moulton in 2014. It was widely thought that he would face incumbent Congressman John F. Tierney in a rematch from the 2012 race. But on September 9, Tierney became the fourth member of the U.S. House of Representatives to lose a primary election in the 2014 cycle.[38] Roll Call previously called the race between Tierney and Tisei a "Toss up", but did not re-evaluate the race after the primary upset.[39]

Tisei boycotted the Republican state convention because of the "socially conservative platform the party adopted."[40] But the National Republican Congressional Committee has given him "On the Radar" status, meaning that the NRCC "will help to provide candidates and their campaigns the tools they need to run successful, winning campaigns."[41]

He was endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund[42] but was soundly beaten by Moulton in the general election, by 149,638 votes (54.97%) to 111,989 (41.13%).

Political views[edit]

Tisei has stated about his political ideology: "I have a pretty independent voting record. I try not to be an ideologue. I look at every issue that comes up individually..."[2] The Martha's Vineyard Times reported that Tisei "sees himself as a traditional Republican, believing in individualism, limited government involvement in people's personal lives, and an emphasis on the role of the individual" and as "a libertarian on social issues."[2]

Personal life[edit]

In July 2013 Tisei and his longtime partner Bernie Starr were married. They reside in Wakefield. They also own a home at the Katama neighborhood of Edgartown, Massachusetts at Martha's Vineyard.[1][2][43] Since 1992, Tisei has been a real estate broker with Northrup Associate Realtors. In 2000, Tisei became co-owner of Northrup with Starr.[43][44]


  1. ^ a b "Richard Tisei". League of Women Voters. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Wolfson, C.K. (September 8, 2010). "Katama resident Richard Tisei: a quiet political presence — until now". The Martha's Vineyard Times. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  3. ^ a b "About Richard". Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Levenson, Michael (November 24, 2009). "Baker names Tisei as running mate". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on November 24, 2009.
  5. ^ Woodruff, Betsy (September 5, 2012). "A 'Live-and-Let-Live' Republican". National Review. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  6. ^ Dabilis, Andrew J. (February 28, 1986). "A time of challenge against Republicans." The Boston Globe: p. B15.
  7. ^ "State Representative." The Boston Globe: p. B44. November 8, 1984.
  8. ^ Vennochi, Joan (February 2, 1986). "GOP optimists see silver lining." The Boston Globe: p. A23.
  9. ^ "Our Campaigns - MA State House - Twenty-Second Middlesex Race - Nov 08, 1988". Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  10. ^ Mohl, Bruce (May 17, 1990). "Pierce's Alternative Budget Plan Is Called Vague And Hard To Find". Boston Globe.
  11. ^ McGrory, Brian (November 7, 1990). "Republicans in State Senate gain numbers to sustain veto." The Boston Globe: p. B27.
  12. ^ "Our Campaigns - MA State Senate - Third Middlesex Race - Nov 06, 1990". Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  13. ^ Laidler, John (May 7, 2000). "Stage Is Being Set For Legislative Races". Boston Globe.
  14. ^ "Our Campaigns - MA State Senate - Third Middlesex Race - Nov 07, 2000". Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  15. ^ "Our Campaigns - MA State Senate - Middlesex & Essex Race - Nov 02, 2004". Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  16. ^ Lombardi, Kristen (May 3, 2001). "Clerical privilege". Boston Phoenix. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  17. ^ Weigel, David (May 7, 2010). "Massachusetts conservatives versus the RGA". Washington Post. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  18. ^ a b Kane, Paul (Sep 29, 2012). "Richard Tisei is a nontraditional Republican vying to represent Massachusetts". Washington Post. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  19. ^ "Legislative panel OK's bill to curtail special interests". Boston Globe. June 8, 1994.
  20. ^ Leader, Sen. Richard Tisei/Minority. "Tisei: Sales tax holiday on the way". Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  21. ^ Ring, Dan (Jul 31, 2007). "Legislature approves sales tax holiday". Mass Live. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  22. ^ Malone, M.E. (April 25, 1991). "Campaign reform bill gets committee OK". Boston Globe.
  23. ^ "Richard Tisei - Ballotpedia". Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. ^ Mooney, Brian C. (July 30, 1995). "Mass. GOP fears gains are eroding". Boston Globe.
  28. ^ Phillips, Frank (20 November 2009), "Baker narrows list of running mates", Boston Globe
  29. ^ "Massachusetts Election Results". The New York Times.
  30. ^ "County Results – Election Center 2010". CNN.
  31. ^ "County Results – Election Center 2010". CNN.
  32. ^ "Map changes incumbents' terrain - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  33. ^ "Tisei Plans Run Against Tierney Under Redistricting Proposal". 8 November 2011. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  34. ^ "RRH Elections - Elections and Campaigns from the Right Perspective". Retrieved 2017-12-05.
  35. ^ "Massachusetts Congressional District 6 election results". NBC News. Sep 9, 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  36. ^ Johnson, Chris (Oct 28, 2013). "Tisei considers rematch in 2014 congressional election". Washington Blade. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  37. ^ Scharfenberg, David. "Officials appear to misuse Mass. campaign funds". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  38. ^ Toosi, Nahal (Sep 9, 2014). "2014 Primary Election Results". Politico. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  39. ^ Gonzales, Nathan (Apr 16, 2014). "Ratings Change: Massachusetts' 6th District". Roll Call. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  40. ^ Birnbaum, Sarah (Mar 21, 2014). "Richard Tisei To Skip State GOP Convention". WGBH. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  41. ^ Livingston, Abby (Nov 21, 2013). "House Republicans Put 36 Recruits 'On the Radar'". Roll Call. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  42. ^ Blake, Aaron (Feb 25, 2014). "LGBT group to back two gay Republicans for Congress". Washington Post. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  43. ^ a b "Our History". Northrup Realtors. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  44. ^ "Richard Tisei Broker/Owner". Northrup Associate Realtors. Retrieved September 7, 2012.

External links[edit]