Richard Tisei could become the first openly gay Republican elected to serve in Congress, but he’s more interested in framing himself as part of the centrist wing of the party than as a trailblazer.
“Overall, I consider myself a ‘live and let live Republican’ — the government should get out of your bedroom, off your back and out of your wallet,” he told The Hill when asked about the historic nature of his campaign. “That’s a pretty traditional Northeastern Republican philosophy. We’ve always had a pretty strong libertarian flavor in our politics up here.”
Tisei said that in his home district, being gay is a “non-issue,” but noted his profile as a pro-gay-marriage, pro-abortion-rights Republican could help him knock off eight-term Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.), whose campaign has been tarnished by his in-laws’ legal troubles.
The 6th congressional district, just north of Boston, gave President Obama 57 percent of its vote in 2008 but broke for Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in 2010. If elected, Tisei would be the first Republican House member to represent the state since 1997.
Despite his not fitting the typical GOP profile, House Republicans are high on Tisei, who served in the statehouse for more than two decades and was the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor in 2010.
Tisei has raised just shy of $50,000 from House Republicans, including donations from Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Boehner also hosted a fundraiser for Tisei and New Hampshire’s two Republican representatives about a month ago.
Tisei said he would “work really well with [GOP] leadership” if he won but promised to break with them on social issues. He called the Defense of Marriage Act, which congressional Republicans are fighting to uphold in court, “unconstitutional,” saying there would never be “true equality” as long as the law stands.
He said he has “no problem” with government funding of Planned Parenthood, and would have voted against Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) amendment that would have repealed the Obama administration’s requirement that some religious-affiliated institutions
This article originally appeared on: http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/239617-mass-house-candidate-could-be-first-openly-gay-republican-in-congress-