Primary Opponents Rip Seth Moulton Over Failed Presidential Run

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Remember when U.S. Representative Seth Moulton ran for president of the United States?

The two Democratic candidates primarying him in the U.S. House race in Massachusetts’s Sixth Congressional District do, and they didn’t let him forget it in a Zoom debate hosted by 1623 Studios on Wednesday night.

Jamie Belsito, a member of the Salem State University Board of Trustees, and longtime progressive activist Angus McQuilken, both of Topsfield, hit Moulton for his unrequited pursuit of the Oval Office.

“There were five female presidential candidates,” Belsito said. “To me, we didn’t need any men to step into that race. We had qualified women to run for president. And we had an individual named Seth Moulton who ran for president and I still don’t understand what that had to do with the district — I appreciate he loves his country — but it left us hanging and made it look like we were a side gig and not his main focus.”

Democratic women who ran for president in the 2020 primary include U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and Marianne Williamson.

Moulton was one of more than 20 Democratic candidates to seek the party’s nomination, although he never emerged as a factor in the race. He announced his campaign in April 2019, later than most of the other candidates. (Only former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg of the mainstream candidates announced later.) Moulton dropped out of the race in August 2019 after failing to qualify for any of the televised debates. He was polling at zero percent at the time.

Moulton ranked ninth among U.S. House Democrats in missed votes (14.1 percent) in 2019, according to GovTrack.

Belsito also criticized Moulton for his campaign in November 2018 against re-electing Nancy Pelosi as U.S. House Speaker, saying Pelosi is a hard-working woman who didn’t deserve the grief he brought her.

McQuilken also hit the congressman on both of Moulton’s abortive campaigns, and added a third charge to the list.

“His priorities in Congress have been clear,” McQuilken said of Moulton. “Try to oust Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. That didn’t get very far. That was strike one. Strike two run for president, revealing I believe the job he wants next rather than the job he has now. And then he was the only Democrat in the House of Representatives to sponsor this resolution condemning China for the coronavirus at a time when we needed leadership on addressing the crisis itself. Three strikes and you’re out.”

Moulton initially supported but quickly withdrew his support from the resolution condemning China for its role in starting and covering up the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 150,000 Americans.

“When I signed onto H.Res.907, I did so because it is important to recognize and condemn the CCP’s authoritarian tactics,” Moulton tweeted on March 26. “Instead, it has been used to create division, as the president’s xenophobia stokes racism across the country. For that reason, I am withdrawing my support.”

Moulton never directly addressed his unsuccessful presidential run during the debate.

But he defended his criticism of China, saying that the Communist government has done harm to Americans.

Moulton took a shot at McQuilken while describing his own policy on drugs as reasonable – wanting to legalize marijuana and expunge marijuana arrest records, for example, while trying to keep more harmful narcotics out of the country.

“And finally, I’ve put forth the Stop Chinese Fentanyl Act because not many people know this but 80 percent of the fentanyl — the leading opioid cause of death in America — comes from China. One of my opponents thinks we should be soft on China when China is literally killing our kids in the streets. I think we should stand up to China, and that’s what I’ve been doing in Congress.”

The Sixth Congressional District covers most of the North Shore of Boston. It goes from Lynn and Nahant in the south to Billerica and Bedford to the west to the New Hampshire border to the north, and it includes all of the coastal towns and cities on the east between Lynn and Salisbury.

Moulton has held the seat since January 2015, after he ousted a Democratic incumbent in the 2014 primary.

The Democratic primary is September 1.


Massachusetts Sixth Congressional District (as of 2012), courtesy of Wikipedia


Massachusetts Sixth Congressional District (2012 – Present)


Middlesex County

Towns of Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, North Reading, Reading, Tewksbury, Wakefield and Wilmington


Essex County

Cities of Beverly, Gloucester, Lynn, Newburyport, Peabody, and Salem

Town of Andover (Precincts 1 and 8; Sub-Precincts 7A and 9A); towns of Amesbury, Boxford, Danvers, Essex, Georgetown, Groveland, Hamilton, Ipswich, Lynnfield, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead, Merrimac, Middleton, Nahant, Newbury, North Andover, Rockport, Rowley, Salisbury, Saugus, Swampscott, Topsfield, Wenham and West Newbury