By Bill Kirk
---- — ANDOVER — Seth Moulton says he’s not a political insider, won’t run a negative campaign and hasn’t announced the specific issues he’s running on.
He raised $12,000 in the first 12 hours after announcing his candidacy last weekend for the 6th Congressional District, which is composed of cities and towns in Essex and Middlesex counties and represented by longtime U.S. Rep. John Tierney, a Salem Democrat.
Moulton, a Harvard-educated, Marine veteran of the Iraq War who said he believes in core Democratic values, was in the area yesterday to introduce himself to Merrimack Valley voters.
He has almost 1 1/2 years before the primary election to win them over.
“I wouldn’t be in this race if I didn’t think I could win,” Moulton said during a visit to Andover. “I’m frustrated with Congress and people are frustrated with the inability of Congress to get things done. They want change. They want a new generation of leaders.”
Moulton, 34, of Salem, would face off against Tierney in the 2014 primary, with the general election in November.
Tierney welcomes the challenge.
“I welcome people of all parties to the campaign to represent the residents and families of the 6th District in Congress,” he said in an emailed statement. “This process makes our democracy stronger and helps bring even greater attention to the critical issues facing those in our area.
“I look forward to debating the issues that matter during the 2014 campaign. Like those I represent, I am committed to improving our economy, making college more affordable, preventing gun violence, strengthening health care for seniors and service members, and ensuring that our country continues to be a leader around the world.
“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 said he’s not going to run a negative campaign focusing on Tierney’s wife, Patrice, who was charged with helping her brothers, who were running an illegal online gambling enterprise.
During the election last year, Republican Richard Tisei focused much of his advertising budget on attacking Tierney and his wife for their alleged involvement in the enterprise.
“I’m not focusing on that,” Moulton said. “The voters have to make their decision based on who they think is better for the job. There are too many other important issues Congress should be focused on. We shouldn’t be distracted by that other business.”
A political novice, Moulton realizes he’s got a long way to go and isn’t prepared yet to lay out the issues he feels are important in the district.
“This is a long campaign,” he said. “Over the course of the next year, I will roll out the issues I’m running on.”
Now, he said, he’s introducing himself to voters while also listening to their concerns.
“The vast majority of people are enthusiastic” about him running, he said.
Yesterday, he started the day at Shawsheen Luncheonette for breakfast, then went to Perfecto’s in North Andover, to Boxford and ended up in Groveland.
He also recognizes that it’s going to cost money.
“There’s too much money in politics, but it’s the price of entry,” he said, noting that he’s been flattered by the support he’s received since announcing his run earlier this month, including picking up $12,000 in just the first 12 hours of his announcement.
Those were unsolicited donations, he said, based upon an email he sent out to people making his announcement.
Already, he’s put together a political team, including campaign manager Max Glass, who ran the successful campaign of Tusli Gabbard, also a veteran, in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional district. Gabbard faced well-known Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannerman in the Democratic primary and won in an upset with 55 percent of the vote.
His press aide is Carrie Rankin, formerly with the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry and other Democrats.
What drives him, Moulton said, is the idea of public service.
As a U.S. Marine serving in Iraq, he learned first-hand the meaning of public service.
“In Iraq, I served with people from all over the country,” he said. “We had to rise above our differences to serve America. There are always going to be people on both sides who don’t want to work with the other side. But there are enough people in the middle who want to get things done.”
The district is composed of the following communities:
In Essex County: The cities of Amesbury, Beverly, Gloucester, Lynn, Newburyport, Peabody and Salem and the towns of: Andover: Precincts 1, 7A, 8, and 9A; Boxford, Danvers, Essex, Georgetown, Groveland, Hamilton, Ipswich, Lynnfield, Manchester, Marblehead, Merrimac, Middleton, Nahant, Newbury, North Andover, Rockport, Rowley, Salisbury, Saugus, Swampscott, Topsfield, Wenham, and West Newbury.
In Middlesex County: The towns of: Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, North Reading, Reading, Tewksbury, Wakefield and Wilmington.