Lowell Sun: Democratic congressional candidate Seth Moulton thinks he's the right person to unseat longtime Rep. John Tierney, and says now is the right time to mount his challenge.
The facts, he said, are on his side, and the money is quickly rolling in. His challenge now is to get his name out there as a serious challenger to a nine-term incumbent.
Moulton stressed the need for new leadership in Washington Wednesday, calling Tierney one of the least effective congressmen in the country.
"We need people who can go to Congress to actually get things done, not just to vote the right way on the issues, not just to follow what the party tells them to do, but to really fight for change, and that's the kind of congressman that I'm interested in being," Moulton said in an interview with The Sun's editorial board.
Moulton is challenging Tierney in the Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District, which includes Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Tewksbury and Wilmington.
Although Tierney still holds the fundraising lead, Moulton is issuing a strong challenge, with about $790,000 at the end of June to Tierney's $1.2 million. From April to June, he raised $414,000, while Tierney's campaign reported raising over $400,000.
Moulton is hoping to continue capitalizing on what he called voters' disillusionment with the incumbent, who he claims has lost touch with his constituents.
"I'm sure he went down to Washington with the right intentions, but it seems like he's really lost touch with the people that he's supposed to represent," Moulton said.
His inexperience in politics, he said, is more of a virtue than a detriment. He said Tierney's record of having one bill passed in his 18 years of service was an example of the ineffectiveness of Congress and the need for change.
"Congress is broken today. We've never had a less effective Congress in American history and we can't change that by sending the same people back again and again," Moulton said.
Moulton, an Iraq War veteran and newcomer to politics, is hoping to unseat Tierney with a platform of supporting veterans, educational reform and targeted economic development.
His top priority if elected, he said, would be to address veterans' issues, including reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs' health-care system that he himself uses.
"I've been saying for a long time that it's not adequate, it's failing our veterans and it needs serious reform," Moulton said.
Tierney was part of a Congress that Moulton said has consistently failed its veterans, sending them to war without asking the necessary questions and then leaving them to struggle upon their return home.
"We need people in Congress who take responsibility for those decisions, who really ask the tough questions to make sure that at the end of the day, regardless of how the votes end up, we make the right decisions for the country," he said.
Those veterans represent a huge source of untapped potential, he said, which is why he recommends reforming the G.I. Bill to pay for veterans to attend private colleges in addition to public schools.
"Taking care of veterans and ensuring they get adequate care isn't just about dealing with a health-care problem. It's unlocking a lot of potential from our veterans to serve back here at home," Moulton said.
He also stressed the importance of educational reform. Moulton has three degrees from Harvard, including two master's degrees in public administration and business administration, but says he is still paying off the student loans that he took out to pay for that education.
He said college students should be protected against predatory lending practices, and mentioned the need to turn around failing public schools.
"A lot of kids in the 6th District don't have that opportunity because they go to a failing school, so even though Massachusetts has on average the best schools in the country, we have a lot of failing schools in this district and that ought to change," he said.
Economic development would be another priority, he said, including revitalizing the Gloucester fishing industry and bringing innovative manufacturing back to Lynn, which he said has languished under Tierney.
His experience as a platoon commander in the Marines, combined with work managing a project to build a high-speed rail line in Texas, have equipped him to lead, he said.
With lower voter turnout expected this year, Moulton said that Tierney's hold on the 6th District is more vulnerable than ever, and he thinks he would be the strongest candidate against Republican challenger Richard Tisei, who lost narrowly to Tierney in 2012.
"In 2012 we had Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren driving Democratic voters to the polls and we're not going to have that in the fall, so we need a stronger Democrat," he said.
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