(John Tlumacki/ Globe Staff/file 2008)
Richard R. Tisei first won elected office at age 22, defeating a Democrat in 1984 for an open legislative seat. The victory made the Wakefield resident the youngest Republican ever elected to the state House of Representatives.
"I broke people's preconceived notions about what a Republican is," Tisei told the Globe in a story published on Feb. 2, 1986. ". . . We have to go on breaking the stereotypes."
That comment 24 years ago looked prescient today as Republican Charles D. Baker tapped Tisei to be his running mate in next year's gubernatorial race. Last week in an interview with the Globe, Tisei publicly acknowledged that he was gay, which has long been an open secret on Beacon Hill.
“It is not exactly a news flash,’’ Tisei said in the interview. “I don’t think people really care these days.’’
The disclosure about Tisei's sexual orientation is not expected to make much of a ripple in the race for governor.
"It's not significant enough to have an impact, and probably for good reason," said Jeffrey M. Berry, a political scientist at Tufts University. "The state is tolerant, and it is way past that. We've accepted gay married as a part of life here."
Tisei served five years in the House before moving to the state Senate in 1991, where he is now minority leader. He has championed the bread-and-butter GOP issues of cutting taxes and cutting spending, taking aim as Patrick for having "an inconsistent and at times counterproductive economic development policy."
After nearly a quarter century in the Legislature, Tisei will provide some balance for Baker, whose only experience in elective office was a stint as a Swampscott selectman. But it will still be Baker's race "to win or lose," Berry said.
"I think that the lieutenant governor has virtually nothing to do with the outcome of the race for governor," Berry said. "It's a constitutional office so there is an illusion it has an impact, but I think it is largely an illusion. The focus is on the gubernatorial candidates."
Other highlights from Tisei's resume:
--Educated in the Lynnfield public schools.
--Received a bachelor's degree from American University in Washington, D.C.
--Has often run unopposed in his Senate district, which includes Malden, Melrose, Reading, Stoneham, Wakefield, and Lynnfield.
--Tisei served as chairman of William Weld's successful campaign for governor in 1990.
--Provoked mild controversy during his first run for state Senate in 1990 when he enlisted the fund-raising help of Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr at a $25-a-person event. His Democratic opponent in the race, Michael Festa, accused Carr of crossing the line as a journalist.
--Flirted with a run for Congress against incumbent Democrat Edward Markey in 1996, but ultimately decided not to run.
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more