A Massachusetts congressional race that has been heating up in the courts and over the airwaves now may be warming in the polls.
The outcome of the Sixth Congressional District race between seven-term incumbent John F. Tierney, the Salem Democrat, and his Republican challenger Bill Hudak now ranks as "likely Democratic" instead of "solid Democratic," according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
"I don't think Tierney is in serious danger, but he has had a rough couple of weeks in the press, and if he hadn't been able to take to the airwaves to counter Hudak, he'd be in more trouble,'' said David Wasserman, House editor of the Cook Political Report.
Tierney's campaign received a blow earlier this month when his wife, Patrice, pleaded guilty to abetting tax evasion in a case tied to her brother's offshore betting operation. The representative was not implicated in the crime, but the revelation boosted the candidacy of Hudak, a Boxford lawyer who is in his first race for office.
Earlier this week, some pointed television advertisements against the Republican nominee prompted his campaign to file a defamation lawsuit against Tierney in Essex Superior Court. In the campaign's request for an emergency restraining order, Hudak is seeking to halt ads that he says lie about his views on mortgage interest deductions and other issues.
The Tierney-Hudak race is the latest to become more competitive, according to Cook. Earlier this month, the report said the race between incumbent Barney Frank and Republican Sean Bielat in Southeastern Massachusetts also could be tighter, shifting its ranking to likely Democratic.
The contest in the Massachusetts Fifth District – between Democratic Representative Niki Tsongas and the Republican nominee Jon Golnik – is also considered likely Democratic.
Only one congressional race in the Bay State is considered by Cook to be competitive: In the challenge to replace the retiring Bill Delahunt in the Tenth District, Democrat William R. Keating is thought to have a slight edge over Republican Jeffrey D. Perry.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.