Seth Moulton ’97 Running To Represent Hometown in Congress

_Kailash Sundaram worked as an intern this summer on Seth Moulton’s campaign._

On Tuesday, independent and Democratic voters in Massachusetts’ Sixth District will decide on the Democratic Party’s Congressional Candidate. One of their options will be Seth Moulton ’97.

Moulton is running against incumbent Congressman John Tierney, Marisa Defranco of Middleton, John Devine of Rockport, and John Gutta of Groveland. If Moulton wins the Democratic primary, he will face Republican Richard Tisei in the general election. Massachusetts’ Sixth District contains most of Essex County and parts of Andover, including Phillips Academy.

A recent Emerson College poll shows Moulton within striking distance of Tierney and only three percentage points behind in the Democratic primaries, with forty-four percent compared to Tierney’s forty-seven percent. The poll’s margin of error was a little over four percent.

After graduating from Andover, Moulton majored in Physics at Harvard University, but showed an early passion for public service when he entered Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a Marine in the United States Armed Forces following his graduation.

Moulton served two tours of duty as a Platoon Commander, saw combat in the Battle of Najaf, and worked to establish an independent Iraqi media. At the request of General Petraeus, Moulton served two additional tours as a liaison to senior Iraqi leaders and Iraqi security forces.

“I saw terrible things that I will never forget. I also saw incredible joys that I will always remember. I don’t think life is ever the same after you’ve been shot at,” said Moulton on his service in Iraq at a 2009 Memorial Day All-School Meeting at Andover.

Although Moulton served in the Iraq War, he was firmly against it. “I didn’t support the war in Iraq, but it was my duty to serve and I would not have wanted someone else to have to go in my place. Congress didn’t know what they were doing when they sent us to war in Iraq, and didn’t have our backs when we were there,” wrote Moulton in his Democracy for America endorsement application.

Following his service in Iraq, Moulton completed a dual degree program at the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School.

While Moulton then dabbled in transportation and healthcare, he ultimately returned to public service. Not only was Moulton unhappy with Congress’ actions during the Iraq War, he was also disappointed with the record of his hometown district’s Congressman, Democrat John Tierney, calling him a “do-nothing congressman who hasn’t passed one bill in 18 years” while speaking by the campus of Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in May.

In July 2013, Moulton announced his candidacy for Congress, emphasizing his military background and ability to “get things done.” “Congress has been making excuses. I am not here to make excuses, I am here to get things done; and if I am sent to Congress and I don’t get things done, then you should replace me,” said Moulton in a The Daily News of Newburyport article.

Moulton found wide support for his campaign from the Andover community. Andover Alumni Trustees Tom Israel ’62, Tom Beaton ’73, Christopher Auguste ’76, and Tammy Murphy ’83 have all made contributions to Moulton’s campaign. Several Andover faculty members have made contributions as well.

Moulton’s Andover support has come not only in financial contributions but also in staff members, volunteers, and interns. Jeff Phaneuf, a Marine Platoon Commander and Moulton Body Man-turned-Moulton Campaign Manager, is a former History Teaching Fellow who taught at Andover from 2010-2011.

“I met Seth when I was a Senior in college. I was considering going into teaching, but I also considered going into the Marines. I got to know Seth through my Phillips Academy and Marine connection, and I have come to support Seth because we need a Marine in Congress who will put country above partisan politics,” said Phaneuf.

Haley Scott ’11, a Moulton Field Intern-turned Moulton Field Coordinator, is in charge of “voter outreach, organizing volunteers, and creating grassroots support for [Moulton’s] campaign” in ten towns in Massachusetts’ Sixth District, including Andover.

Scott supports Seth “because he embodies the ethic of non sibi that Andover attempts to instill in all of its students.”

Added Scott, “He is a model of selflessness. He joined the Marines out of Harvard because he was passionate about service and he is running for Congress because of that same passion.”

Michael Adams ’15, Billy Casagrande ’15, Taylor Chin ’14, Madi Katz ’15, and Jay Tucker ’14 served as field interns on the Moulton Campaign. Phillipian Sports Editor Kailash Sundaram ’15 served as a finance intern on the Moulton Campaign.

“I support Seth Moulton because I think he brings the kind of leadership that is necessary to help change Congress’ stagnant state. This summer I called hundreds of people in the sixth district to tell them about Seth, and I went door-to-door doing the same,” said Katz.

Although a Democratic primary challenger has not won a Congressional race in Massachusetts in twenty-two years, Moulton has proved a serious contender. Though down by fifty-three points to Tierney in a Emerson College poll in April, Moulton has been a successful fundraising, raking in over 1.8 million dollars in his Congressional bid.

The money has translated directly into a large media buy and direct mailing outreach. Following the release of three advertisements, endorsements from seven major regional and local newspapers, including The Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, and The Salem News, and a strong debate showing on August 14th, Moulton has made strong inroads on Tierney. By September 3rd, an Emerson College Poll showed that Moulton was only three points behind Tierney. The poll also showed that if Moulton was selected as the Democratic Congressional Candidate, he would beat Republican Richard Tisei in the general election. If Tierney were to win the Democratic nomination, he would lose the election, according to the Emerson College poll.

“I believe we’ve run an incredible campaign and have proven that newcomers still have a place in our political system. I can’t say which way it will go on Election Day, but I feel very good about our chances and confident that we’ve made a real difference,” said Scott.

Added Phaneuf, “We’ve received outpouring support from people not just in this district but also across the nation who believe in the common idea of country before politics, and I think Seth is an incredible position to win this primary and the first Democrat to unseat a sitting Massachusetts Democrat in Congress since Marty Meehan did it twenty-two years ago. Not only are we neck-and-neck, we’ve also been surging in the polls lately, and I think we’ll ride that momentum to Election Day victory.”

With the race locked in a dead heat, both campaigns have resorted to negative attacks and strong “Get Out the Vote” programs. Tierney has labeled Moulton a “Republican,” while Moulton has attacked Tierney for his legislative – or lack thereof – record. Tierney has also been plagued by his wife’s tax fraud conviction, and he defeated Republican Richard Tisei by only one percent in the 2012 Congressional elections.

If Moulton wins the Congressional race, he will be the only current Andover graduate in Congress. A four-year Andover student from Marblehead, MA, Moulton participated in Andover Crew and was a Sports Editor for The Phillipian.