Tierney lost his primary Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
By the time Massachusetts Rep. John F. Tierney knew he had a real primary race on his hands, it was too late.
The nine-term lawmaker lost Tuesday night to fellow Democrat Seth Moulton, an Iraq War veteran who latched onto frustration with Tierney’s past ethical troubles and an anti-incumbent sentiment to win by a stunning 8-point margin.
Multiple Democratic operatives in the Bay State and the District say the race shifted quickly in Moulton’s favor in the final week and a half, as voters ended summer vacations, kids returned to school and the electorate as a whole began to finally pay attention to the race.
By that point, Moulton had been on air for weeks with hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising that Tierney declined to match. Moulton ran spots painting himself as the more electable Democrat in the 6th District, located in the suburbs and towns northeast of Boston. The region’s biggest newspapers, including the Boston Globe, endorsed Moulton, which he touted in his closing ads as a final sell to remaining undecided voters.
“It just moved faster than I think anyone thought it would,” said a Democratic operative privy to internal polling in the contest. “It closed quickly, but that’s what a million dollars in unanswered spending does.”