Richard Tisei, a gay candidate for Congress in Massachusetts, put some space between himself and Rep. Paul Ryan in a statement just hours after Mitt Romney announced he had selected the Wisconsin congressman as his running mate.
"Congressman Ryan, whether one agrees with him on every issue or not, is a serious politician who sees our country's economic problems in clear terms. I don't agree with him -- or anyone else- - on every single issue," said Tisei in a statement. "I do believe that it's critical that we have leaders from both parties who aren't in denial about the problems we face and who are determined to resolve them. The days of name-calling need to end. The people expect no less and are entitled to no less. They're also sick to death of politicians who, ignoring the country's peril, spend their days only to make cheap political points."
The statement appeared to be an attempt to preempt efforts by his opponent, Rep. John Tierney, to link Tisei to the vice-presidential candidate best known for a controversial budget proposal that would slash government spending while lowering taxes. Tisei said the Democratic incumbent has repeatedly called him an "extremist" and alleged that he supported the Ryan plan, a claim Tisei challenged by saying, "Ask him for his source, next time you hear it."
That Tisei would distance himself from Ryan is not surprising in deeply blue Massachusetts, where Mitt Romney served one term as governor. If he wins the closely contested race to represent the 6th District, north of Boston, in November, he would be the first Republican House member to serve the state since 1997.
Tisei would also become the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress. He downplayed his sexual orientation and party affiliation in his first TV ad released this week, however, instead emphasizing words like "bipartisan" and "independent." Although he supports marriage equality, he did not mention the stark differences between himself and Ryan on other LGBT issues in his latest statement.
The Log Cabin Republicans, who have endorsed Tisei, issued a warmer statement about Ryan's selection. Executive director R. Clarke Cooper praised the "conservative economic vision" that appears to be not entirely welcomed by Tisei in Massachusetts.
"Congressman Paul Ryan is a strong choice for vice president, and his addition to the GOP ticket will help Republican candidates up and down the ballot," Cooper said.