By MARK SARDELLA and DAN TOMASELLO
SAUGUS — What was anticipated to be a long night at Richard Tisei’s election night party at the Kowloon in Saugus was over by 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, when word spread through the crowd that Tisei would be coming to the podium. The subdued tone in the room told the story even before Tisei informed supporters that he had just called opponent Seth Moulton to congratulate him and wish him well.
Moulton defeated Tisei in the race to represent the Sixth Congressional District by a margin of 15 percentage points in what was expected to be a much closer race.
“Seth has served his country very admirably and very honorably in the military,” Tisei said, “and I’m sure that he’s going to do the same as the next congressman from this district. I told him that he could count on me for any help that he needs to do a good job in Congress for the district and I would hope that people here would give him that same support.
“Public service is something that I have really enjoyed,” Tisei told supporters. “I’m very proud of the time I spent in the state senate. I do feel that the work that I did in the senate really did help improve people’s lives.”
Moulton won Lynn by 69 percent to 26 percent, which a Moulton spokeswoman said was “critical.” The Iraq war veteran carried Danvers and Tewksbury, both of which were in the Tisei camp two years ago. Moulton had key victories in North Andover and Amesbury as well.
During his victory speech in Salem, Moulton thanked his supporters and the voters across the Sixth Congressional District who cast ballots in the midterm election.
“I am humbled by your trust and your faith,” said Moulton.
While speaking with Tisei, Moulton said he thanked his Republican challenger “for his commitment to the people of this district and for adding his voice to this debate.”
“We ran against each other but we both ran because we are committed to public service and because we care about this community,” said Moulton. “I am proud that our race has been held up in recent days as a model for how races should be run and how politics should be conducted.”
Moulton said the time has come for Congressional Democrats and Republicans “to come together as Americans and get to work to rebuild our communities and to rebuild our country and to ensure our future is even brighter than our past.”
“It’s not about what is right for the Democratic party or what is right for the Republican party but what is right for America and what is right for our children and grandchildren,” said Moulton.
Tisei said that it was important for both Republicans and Democrats to come together in Washington to solve the nation’s problems.
Tisei thanked supporters for putting their “time, effort and unbelievable amounts of energy into helping me for a very long time.” Tisei especially thanked his campaign team and his husband Bernie Starr.
“I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to run for congress from this district,” Tisei said. “I want to thank all the people of the Sixth Congressional District, and again I congratulate Seth Moulton.”
Tisei hugged his mother as he left the stage and moved through the crowd to thank supporters individually.
Speaking to the media, Tisei said, “I feel comfortable that we ran the best race that we could. We gave it everything we had. Seth and I know each other and we like each other.” He reiterated that he would be willing to do what he can to assist Moulton.
Still, Tisei expressed concern at the lack of balance in the Massachusetts congressional delegation. He worried that not having a member of the majority party in Congress could hurt the state.
“Hopefully this delegation can find a way to move around that and try to get things done,” Tisei said.
Tisei was asked if he had any words specifically for the town of Wakefield.
“Thank you for giving me an opportunity to serve in the past, and I will remain an active member of the community,” the Main Street resident said. “I love my town and I love living in Wakefield and I want to thank all the people who have stood behind me for so many years.”
Wakefield Republican Town Committee chairman Gerard Leeman was at Tisei’s event last night and offered some thoughts on the election result.
The Tisei campaign, Leeman said, “lacked a big message, even though I think he would have been a great congressman.”
Leeman did say that he is “always proud of the way that Richard runs his races.” He called the loss “a deep disappointment, but it’s a big machine we’re up against and until we come up with some very strong, resonant messages I don’t think we should assume victory based on polls. We have to go out and ask for every vote, come up with very compelling messages and sell it all the way through.”