The battle lines were drawn months ago in the fight for the Massachusetts 6th Congressional District seat, and on Monday five North Shore mayors took sides with Democratic incumbent John Tierney of Salem.
In a conference call with media members, the community leaders put their support behind Rep. Tierney - currently serving his eighth term - while criticizing the Republican budget plan as destructive to the middle-class taxpayer.
"Congressman Tierney has done great things for Salem. He has helped keep Salem State University on the cutting edge, secured investments for our city's transportation infrastructure, and made sure our police and firefighters have the tools they need to keep our community safe," Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll said.
"The Republican budget would hurt Salem families, because it will mean fewer jobs, fewer investments in our future, and less help for the middle class. I strongly support John and his efforts to make our communities stronger."
The other mayors - Beverly's Bill Scanlon, Newburyport's Donna Holaday, Amesbury's Thatcher Kezer, and Peabody's Ted Bettencourt - shared Driscoll's belief that Tierney's investment in small business and municipal services is what's best for North Shore communities.
"John Tierney has my full support in this campaign because he has and will continue to be a strong advocate for the people of Newburyport," Holaday said. "His work in Congress has made our city stronger because of smart, long-term investments. He has made sure that Newburyport is getting the help it needs for our public schools, our fire department, our infrastructure, and our coastline."
Democrats have aligned Republican candidates - Tisei, and incumbent Scott Brown in the Senate - with the federal budget plan of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's running mate.
Tisei has said that he would not vote for the Ryan budget, but all five mayors implied that a Republican in the seat would mean a vote for the Ryan's budget.
"Republicans in Congress are proposing a budget that will slash education funding and weaken our economy by making our workforce less competitive. I am standing with John in this election because he has always stood by middle-class families in Beverly," Scanlon said.
"Cities and towns cannot afford the Republican budget proposal that would undermine our ability to invest in key municipal services resulting in more burden on the local taxpayer or the elimination of services," Kezer said. "John will make the decisions that will build a stronger middle class and keep our communities vibrant."
A third candidate - the self-proclaimed libertarian Daniel Fishman of Beverly - recently threw his hat into the ring as well.
The Massachusetts primary is Septemebr 6.
Ryan Mooney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mooney_ryan.