BILLERICA -- A rematch between Democratic U.S. Rep. John Tierney and Republican challenger Richard Tisei would give voters one of the clearest-cut contrasts on business issues out of any race in the country, in the eyes of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Touring the medical-device

company Belmont Instrument Corp. with Tisei Tuesday morning, chamber Senior Vice President Rob Engstrom called Tisei a friend of business. Later in the day, he delivered the chamber's formal endorsement for Tisei, praising the candidate's job-creation record at a Lynn press conference.

"The current congressman is hostile to our membership," Engstrom told The Sun in Billerica.

Belmont Instrument Corp. President George Herzlinger shows equipment at the Billerica medical-device manufacturer Tuesday as U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Belmont Instrument Corp. President George Herzlinger shows equipment at the Billerica medical-device manufacturer Tuesday as U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President Rob Engstrom, center, and Republican congressional candidate Richard Tisei look on. SUN / DAVID H. BROW

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"He is a direct threat to our free-enterprise system."

The chamber wants to see a more moderate Congress and believes Tisei, who owns a real-estate firm, will bring a necessary change, Engstrom said.

Last month, the national business group started running television ads in support of Tisei, and Engstrom said Tuesday the group plans to be vocal in its criticism of Tierney.

The district where Tierney and Tisei are running includes Billerica, as well as Bedford, Burlington, Tewksbury and Wilmington.

Tierney faces a challenge from three other candidates within his own party. Democrats Seth Moulton of Salem, Marisa DeFranco of Middleton and John Devine of Rockport are also seeking the nomination.


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Tierney is running with the backing of party leadership. At an event in Lowell Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Niki Tsongas both expressed their support for Tierney.

"Wasn't that an interesting contrast?" Engstrom said. "Congressman Tierney can stand with Nancy Pelosi, and America's job creators will stand with Richard Tisei."

Tierney's campaign sees the chamber's endorsement differently.

"The U.S.

Belmont Instrument Corp. President George Herzlinger, left, leads a tour of the Billerica company Tuesday with Republican congressional candidate Richard
Belmont Instrument Corp. President George Herzlinger, left, leads a tour of the Billerica company Tuesday with Republican congressional candidate Richard Tisei, right, as U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President Rob Engstrom, second from left, and chamber Eastern Region Executive Director Geoff O'Hara look on. SUN / DAVID H. BROW

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
Chamber of Commerce supports the Ryan Budget that ends Medicare as we know it, opposes raising the minimum wage, and believes shipping American jobs overseas is just fine," Tierney spokeswoman Lauren Soltani said in a statement.

"Mr. Tisei's acceptance of the U.S. Chamber's endorsement and their hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign ads should confirm to 6th District voters that he'll be a rubber stamp for Speaker Boehner's radical economic agenda that consistently puts the interests of big corporations and Wall Street ahead of middle-class workers and families."

In their tour of Belmont Instrument Corp.'s Cook Street offices, Tisei and Engstrom heard from company President George Herzlinger about the challenges presented by government regulations.

Belmont was launched in 1980 with no outside money, a strategy that Herzlinger said he "wouldn't recommend to anybody."

Tisei asked Herzlinger if he thought he'd be able to start Belmont in today's business environment, which the candidate has critiqued as being hostile to entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

"I wouldn't be able to do it the same way," Herzlinger said. "I can't do it self-financed. There's too many regulations. Even the FDA has changed."

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