The slow, quiet start at Congressman Tierney’s headquarters reflected the unfavorable numbers coming in from the polling stations earlier that evening. With towns reporting margins as slim as 12 votes, everyone in the ballroom at Salem’s Hawthorne Hotel kept close watch on the numbers as they rolled in.  At 11 p.m., Congressman Tierney was leading his opponent Richard Tisei by just over 5,000 votes. By midnight, his lead was just over 4,000 votes. It was too close to call. But Tierney’s supporters were increasingly optimistic. Salem mayor Kim Driscoll said she was pleasantly surprised by the direction the night took.

I think we all came in expecting the worst,” said Driscoll. “But it’s a great surprise in terms of really seeing the effort made the last 48-72 hours on the ground, working hard, paying off.”

Tierney was elusive for most of the night, not making any appearances or sending anyone from his campaign to speak with the crowd. At one point, rumors from Tisei’s headquarters of the Republican giving a concession speech spread rapidly through the ballroom, but were soon extinguished — because the race was too close to call. But the slight lead was just favorable enough for the congressman to make an appearance —finally.  Representative Tierney entered the ballroom to supporters cheering and chanting his name feverishly. He stepped up to the podium with his wife Patrice close by his side. She beamed and waved at supporters as Tierney addressed the crowd.

Even though we didn’t take back the majority in the House,” Tierney said. “We picked up seats, and now I think the Republicans might get it. They have to come to the table and work with us.”

It was a victory speech — even though a victor had not yet officially been called.

All the talk about bi-partisanship and wanting to be the ones to get in there,” said Tierney. “They’re the ones that ran the nastiest campaigns. They’re the ones that were the least non-partisan in their approach to things. And now we’ve watched in the past two years, they’ve tried to obstruct this president. For the next two years, let’s have them work with us, we’ll work with them. We’ll bring this country forward, we’ll keep it on the march. Thank you all for everything.”

Following his speech, Tierney turned his full attention to his family and supporters, avoiding reporters at every turn. But state democratic chairman John Walsh spoke vociferously, declaring Tierney as the true victor.

Richard Tisei lost this election,” Walsh said. “Because he failed to offer one positive articulation of why he would be a good congressman.  I mean, it’s unequivocal. This isn’t like hanging chads and 300 votes in Florida. You’re talking about thousands of votes.”

3,650 votes to be exact. While many expected an upset from the Republican Party in the 6th district, it was Tierney, the incumbent, who surprised everyone, reclaiming his hard-fought seat—an unexpected finish in this bitter race.