By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — Seth Moulton, the Marblehead native who considered running for Congress a year ago, has announced plans to challenge Congressman John Tierney in the Democratic primary next year.
Moulton, a former Marine who holds three degrees from Harvard, will kick off his campaign by visiting each of the 39 communities in the 6th District, including those on Cape Ann, over the next 10 days.
Tierney, now serving his ninth term in Congress, plans to run for re-election. No Republicans have entered the race to date.
Moulton tested the waters to run as an independent last summer, but decided against it and did not return the paperwork required to be on the ballot.
Tierney, considered vulnerable after an offshore gambling scandal that involved his wife and in-laws, beat back a strong challenge from Republican Richard Tisei in November, winning re-election by less than 1 percentage point.
Moulton, 34, says he’s running for Congress — his first run for public office — simply because he’s frustrated. Congress “has not been doing its job effectively,” he said, and it’s time for change.
“I’m a pragmatic Democrat. I’m a person that wants to go to Washington and get things done,” Moulton said. “... I’m (also) a frustrated Democrat. I think we haven’t shown a lot of new thinking about old issues. Congress has been kicking the can down the road too much.”
Moulton has begun to line up campaign staff and volunteers, a website and social media outreach, and said he will file campaign paperwork this week. He has yet to establish a campaign headquarters, but said he will probably set up in Salem, where he moved recently.
Tierney has continued to raise campaign money since he was re-elected last fall. Federal campaign finance records show he finished the first quarter of 2013 with $225,889 cash on hand.
In a statement emailed to the Times’ sister paper, the Salem News, on Monday, Tierney said he looks forward to “debating the issues that matter” during the 2014 campaign.
“I welcome people of all parties to the campaign to represent the residents and families of the 6th District in Congress,” Tierney wrote. “This process makes our democracy stronger and helps bring even greater attention to the critical issues facing those in our area. ... I am grateful that my fellow Democrats in the 6th have nominated me multiple times and worked hard to help me win general elections. I will once again ask for their support and work tirelessly to earn it.”
Moulton attended Marblehead public schools as a youngster, followed by Phillips Academy in Andover and Harvard. He joined the Marines after college and served four tours in Iraq. During his last tour, he was a special assistant to Gen. David Petraeus during the much-publicized surge.
When Moulton returned stateside, he went back to Harvard to earn master’s degrees in public administration and business administration, and worked briefly for Goldman Sachs. He moved to Texas to work as managing director of Texas Central Railway, a firm looking to build a high-speed bullet train, but returned to the North Shore last December.
Since then he’s become co-founder and president of Eastern Healthcare Partners, a company that focuses on the financial and health burden of non-communicable diseases, such as obesity and diabetes. He also serves on the board of the Salem YMCA.
Moulton said if he’s elected, he’ll bring with him to Capitol Hill his experience of leading a platoon of Marines from all over the U.S.
“Many of us had different backgrounds and beliefs, and yet we were all able to rise above those differences and do what’s best for America,” he said. “I think that’s what Americans rightly expect of Congress as well.
“But I don’t think that’s what Congress has been doing. Congress today seems defined by differences, rather than what we all share in common and hope for the future. I think America is looking for more pragmatic leaders in Washington — people who can roll up their sleeves and get things done. That’s what we all had to do overseas in the (Iraq) war, and I think that same kind of leadership is what we need to see in Washington.”
Moulton said his top priority will be one that “hits close to home” -- veterans issues.
“We need to do more for veterans,” he said. “They’re not just victims. They have a lot of valuable experience. Many of them just need an opportunity to serve again.”
The 6th District contains 39 cities and towns in northeast Massachusetts, stretching from Bedford and Burlington to Gloucester and Amesbury.
The congressional primary will be held in September 2014 and the general election in November.
Bethany Bray can be reached at email@example.com.