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A 6th sense on 18 years

LYNN – U.S. Rep. John F. Tierney looks back with pride and satisfaction on his 18 years in Congress, notwithstanding the way it ended.?We accomplished a great deal. I?m really proud of the work my staff and I did, and we got great support from constituents,” Tierney said in an interview at The Item earlier this week.And while some would argue Tierney was vulnerable this year after barely surviving a bruising race vs. Republican Richard Tisei in 2012, the nine-term congressman attributes his primary loss to Seth Moulton to an anti-incumbent sentiment that swept the nation this fall.?There are a lot of people disgruntled with government,” he said. “You could sense there was a let?s-blame-them-all feeling out there.”Tierney is one of four congressman – and the only Democrat – to be defeated in a primary this year, according to Roll Call. In the general election, 14 congressmen were unseated, including 12 Democrats; five U.S. senators, all Democrats, were defeated.Tierney believes an increasingly cynical media has led to voters? growing disdain for elected officials.?I get irritated because I think the media has become a stenographer for cynicism,” he said, “instead of informing and educating people. The public is disgruntled, so (they figure) we?ll feed that flame. In a 24/7 news cycle, there aren?t as many reflective stories on how government works.”Tierney, for one, believes it works just fine. And he is proud to have played a part in it by representing the 6th District for the past 18 years.?I think we got a considerable amount done, in a fairly bipartisan way,” said Tierney, who defeated Rep. Peter Torkildsen in 1996. “The last four years we had the majority (2007-11), in terms of getting legislation signed into law, we had the most productive Congress since 1964. I think we did good things in terms of education, health care, energy, infrastructure, science ? It?s been a good 18 years.”Tierney is the ranking Democrat on the National Security subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He also sits on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.?I?m happy with the education work we did,” he said, “making sure higher education is accessible and affordable.” He worked on legislation increasing Pell grant funding, lowering interest rates on federal student loans and implementing loan-forgiveness programs.He is also pleased with his work on the Oversight committee. “We located billions of dollars in waste and got some changes in Pentagon policy and in the laws as to how the Pentagon goes about spending money. That?s what oversight does,” he said.Tierney?s office has been known for providing a high level of constituent services, a philosophy he attributes to one of Massachusetts? most well-known elected officials ever.?We live in a state where Ted Kennedy is the model you aspire to meet,” he said. “We wanted to be the congressional equivalent of Ted Kennedy?s office. If we couldn?t help someone, we found someone who could. We prided ourselves on (helping people) with social security, veterans? benefits, housing, Medicare and immigration.”Tierney was barely reelected in 2012, winning by only 3,650 votes, with more than 372,200 votes cast. It was a race in which Tisei latched onto the illegal gambling activities of Tierney?s brothers-in-law and the role his wife played in handling their finances, resulting in her pleading guilty to filing false tax returns on one brother?s behalf. Tierney was cleared of any wrongdoing by the House Ethics Committee.?People recognize that it was politics – nasty, angry politics,” he said of Tisei?s making an issue out of it in 2012.This year was an entirely different story, as Moulton – and three others – took the somewhat bold step of running against an entrenched incumbent in the primary. Moulton won convincingly, beating Tierney by 11 points.Tierney said he has no problem with Moulton?s running, but he feels the challenger?s campaign tactics left much to be desired

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