Salem News: Moulton Targets Tierney as Liability for Democrats

The Salem News profiled Seth on the heels of today's announcement that we're on the verge of a huge upset. Read the whole story below:


SALEM — After graduating from Harvard in 2001, Seth Moulton could have continued his Ivy League education, a path that might have led easily to a management position and a six-figure salary.

Instead the Marblehead native enlisted in the U.S. Marines Corps — just months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks — a decision that led to four tours of duty in Iraq and a job as commander of an infantry platoon.

Years later that decision continues to define the 35-year-old veteran as he makes his first run for public office, challenging nine-term Congressman John Tierney for the 6th District seat.

“We need new leaders, new blood and ideas,” Moulton said. “You simply cannot fix the most dysfunctional Congress in history by sending the same people back to Washington and just asking them to try a little harder.”

Campaigning in the Democratic primary, Moulton has hammered away at Tierney’s voting record and blasted him for not passing legislation. Moulton also has reached out to national Democratic activists, hoping to convince them that he would better represent the district.


“Tierney is a liability for the Democratic Party,” Moulton said. “It should not be that hard to get re-elected as a Democrat in Massachusetts. But every time that he barely holds onto this seat — only with the help of millions of dollars of national party money — that’s taking away money from other states where we might actually win back seats.”

Moulton talks of bipartisanship and working with the leadership of the Republican-led House of Representatives. It’s a lesson he said he learned in Iraq, when he was a member of a delegation sent by U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, then commander of the coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, to forge a security agreement with Shiite leaders in areas south of Baghdad.

“These were people who two weeks before had literally tried to kill us, yet we were able to find common ground and reach an agreement that protected both American and Iraqi lives,” he said. “Why can’t we do that in Washington? The Republicans are obstructionists and I don’t agree with their views, but at least they’re not trying to kill us.”

Moulton grew up in a modest, two-story Colonial in Marblehead and attended Marblehead schools until he was accepted into Phillips Academy in Andover on scholarship. After the Marines, he returned to Harvard where he earned a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Government and an MBA from Harvard Business School. More recently he worked for a company building a high-speed railway between Dallas and Houston.

Moulton’s decision to join the military in part inspired his bid for Congress. A group that seeks veterans to run for elected office encouraged him to challenge Tierney in 2012 but decided the timing wasn’t right. Mostly, he said, it was just too late to get into the fray.

But Moulton has had two years to build support for a campaign and has proven a formidable fundraiser — banking more than $1.6 million since he formally entered the race last year, including $414,000 in the most recent quarter, according to Federal Election Commission filings. He raised another $153,781 from July 1 through Aug. 20.

That compares to Tierney’s $1.9 million in campaign contributions in this election cycle, and Tisei’s $1.3 million, according to FEC records.

rsz_140712-1904.jpgMoulton’s robust fundraising has paid for a series of TV ads highlighting his small-town upbringing and military service, while criticizing Tierney’s congressional record.

If elected, Moulton said he will focus on reforming the federal loan program for higher education and the Department of Veterans Affairs, cracking down on unfair foreign trade practices and pushing for investment in tech industries such as clean energy and biotechnology.

Besides a lack of name recognition, Moulton faces the potential of being shunned in the Sept. 9 primary by some party activists over his Democratic bona fides. Voting records show that Moulton has been a registered Democrat only since December 2012. He was an independent voter prior to that, although his campaign says he has never voted Republican.

In TV ads that began airing this week, Tierney’s campaign accused Moulton of being a Republican in disguise, citing a campaign donation last year from the GOP-backed White Mountain PAC. Moulton has said his campaign cashed the $1,000 check but later refunded the group after learning about its Republican ties.

More recently, questions have arisen about a Super PAC, Forward Massachusetts, that has close ties to Moulton’s campaign. The group has given his supporters a way around political contribution limits, allowing them to pump thousands of dollars more into his congressional bid. It also has used images of Moulton first produced by his campaign — the kind of sharing that one expert says violates federal election law.

Moulton brushes off the criticism and said he expects to win the primary.

And if he doesn’t, he’ll be back in 2016.

“There are a lot of people across the country looking at this race,” he said. “I think they see this story of a young, pragmatic veteran taking on this ineffective, entrenched congressman as emblematic of the kind of change we need in Congress.”


Read the original article here.