Post-Election, What Now?
Local Democrats and Republicans talk how to move forward now that the election is over.
No matter which side or candidate you were supporting, the 2012 election was likely one of the most politically and socially divisive elections in recent years. And victory was decidedly with one party in Massachusetts -- the Democrats -- on Tuesday with some hotly contested races that initially appeared could swing either way.
The congressional race between incumbent John Tierney and Republican challenger Richard Tisei was widely considered one of the nastiest in the nation, highlighted by scathing attacks in political ads from both sides and even in person between the rival candidates.
The U.S. Senate race between incumbent Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren was similarly neck-and-neck at times and just as divisive -- the presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney saw much of the same.
The bitter rhetoric from both sides might give the impression that moving forward to deal with looming domestic and foreign concerns in the days ahead won't be an easy task.
"As divisive as it was, we can be thankful that at least we won't find tanks surrounding the White House in the morning" -- that's what local Democrat Bill Power was telling fellow voters Tuesday night.
He said in an interview Wednesday there's really no other choice than for both sides to come together and put aside their differences in order to solve some of the country's problems.
"There doesn't seem to be a strong enough leader [in Washington] to step up and say we're going to hammer this out," Power said.
Peabody Republican Scott Frasca, who ran Brown's campaign in the city and was also part of Tisei's efforts, said on Wednesday that the election is over and it's time to move on. While he is disappointed in Tuesday's results, he's not dwelling on defeat.
"The way I feel is to put things behind me...and move forward, focus on getting things done [together]," said Frasca, who also runs the local charity Making a Difference in Peabody Foundation.
"The economy is terrible...there are some very real foreign policy issues [to work on]. We need to stand together as one to get these issues resolved," he said.
Frasca places the onus of that task squarely on Obama, and in the same way, Tierney.
"Obama has to show leadership and reach across the aisle and get some things done," he said, also noting Tierney will not return to Congress as a member of the majority.
"He's going to have to stop being so partisan and start being productive," Frasca said.
On the other side of the aisle, Peabody's Mike Schulze, who has run local campaigns for John Kerry and Tierney, says he's still celebrating.
He said Tuesday was all about defeating extremist right-wingers -- people he calls "the American Taliban," although he wouldn't place Romney, Brown or Tisei in that category.
Schulze said he's, instead, referring to "extreme right wing religious hate groups" all across the country, such as the Westboro Baptists in Kansas; he feels they make up about 30 percent of the voting populace.
"The white old guy is no longer in charge, young people went out and voted," Schulze said -- "America has changed."
As for lingering divisiveness, he does see and hear a lot of bitterness from those who did not support Obama, Warren or Tierney as well as a lot of "I told you so's" from the other side.
Schulze argues Tierney's real strength at the polls came not from his actual campaigning, which he didn't feel was very effective, but because local officials across the North Shore knocked on doors and shook hands on Tierney's behalf.
Schulze said they reminded voters Tierney was "a good congressman" who has "always fought hard for North Shore cities and towns." By comparison, he said, campaign rhetoric to label Tisei as a right wing extremist fell flat.
Schulze pointed to the significant boost Tierney received from Lynn and Salem voters -- he won in Peabody, Beverly and Gloucester as well, but only by 2,000-3,000 votes in each.
In fact, Tierney only won 11 of the 39 cities and towns in the 6th District, according to town-by-town results from the Boston Globe.
Tierney himself, speaking to supporters Tuesday night, said: "In the end it wasn't about our family, and it wasn't about his family; it was about your families."
Frasca said the race was so close -- Tierney won Tuesday by a mere 3,650 votes -- largely because Tierney was dogged by his family's legal troubles and there was a "good alternative candidate" in Tisei. He felt Libertarian Daniel Fishman did make a "big impact" in the race, picking up about 4 percent of the vote.
"Tisei, he did everything you have to in a campaign," Frasca said.
"If I had one disappointment, it was that Peabody went for Brown," Schulze said, which was a repeat of 2010.
The Tanner City, however, wasn't alone in that regard Tuesday -- the entire North Shore voted red except for Lynn, Salem, Swampscott, Gloucester and Rockport. In Peabody, Warren won six out of 19 precincts, including at Brooksby Village -- her one and only campaign stop here.
"He's [Brown] the nice, independent guy Peabody tends to vote for," Schulze said, and his ties to the North Shore, as opposed to Warren, certainly help. "I could say Brown's persona resonated with Peabody."
Schulze said he's sure Warren will be making an official stop here soon, and also pointed out Peabody is not a heavily Democratic city -- most voters are unenrolled.
Power agrees that Peabody has an independent streak and likes bi-partisan politicians, so does Power for that matter, who has been known to vote for a Republican candidate or two.
He supported Brown in this election as well.
Power said Brown "didn't seem to have a strong allegiance to anyone," in his opinion, and maintained a great deal of independence in representing the Bay State.
He wasn't so optimistic of Brown's odds of keeping the seat, however, based on polling results in the weeks leading up to the election, although he was surprised at the margin of Warren's victory -- she won 54-46.
He said he was just as surprised at anyone at Tierney's ultimate victory, based on the momentum of the race heading into Tuesday and early results, which had Tisei up by several points.
He said Tierney "has been a good friend to the historical community" and local preservation efforts. As for partisanship and voting party line, he said, that should always be a concern for voters and lawmakers.
"There has to be some good ideas coming from the other side, there just has to be," Power said.
School Committee member Jarrod Hochman says he hopes people start working together, whether that's in Congress or at home, and is confident that for the most part, much of the charged rhetoric during the campaign season was just that.
He said people expressed their opinions, but "I think by and large people would get behind whoever was elected."
Hochman, who chairs the Republican city committee, said he's already spoken with Mayor Ted Bettencourt about working on some joint efforts between the city and both party committees.
"I was astonished with the results of the Tierney [and] Tisei race," he said. "I thought [Tierney] was going to lose by several points" -- in fact, it seemed like the congressman had even given up toward the end of the race, according to Hochman.
"I would certainly say Tierney won that race rather than Tisei lost it," he said.
"I certainly hope that he [Tierney] heard...what almost half of the district had to say [by voting for Tisei]," Hochman said, adding that he hopes that can start more of a dialogue of working across the aisle.
Hochman also said he was surprised most at the margin of Warren's victory, not that she won. "I wasn't crazy about the race that either Brown or Warren ran," he said.
Hochman said he believes Brown accomplished what he was sent to Washington D.C. to do -- be a bipartisan voice for Massachusetts -- and he hopes the outgoing "talented" senator does keep his options open for representing the Bay State in the future.