SALEM, Mass. — With 10% of precincts reporting, Congressman Seth Moulton led with 65% of the vote Tuesday night over Republican challenger John Paul Moran.
Moulton, 42, a Salem Democrat, is seeking a fourth term representing the 6th Congressional District, which includes the North Shore, Cape Ann and Newburyport area. Complete results were not available as of The Salem News' print deadline.
Moran, 54, of Billerica, is a former MIT scientist who worked on a space telescope. Because COVID-19 meant limited campaign events, Moran attempted to reach voters by driving around the district in a Ford truck emblazoned with his name. He described himself as a “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” candidate who would bring his experience as a small businessman and political outsider to Washington, D.C.
The race took a divisive tone. Moulton frequently referred to his challenger as an acolyte of President Donald Trump with links to QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory that believes Satan-worshipping pedophiles are seeking to undermine President Donald Trump.
“I don’t even know what QAnon is,” Moran said prior to Election Day.
Many of those who shared how they voted outside of polling locations Tuesday supported Moulton, though the reasons varied. Several leaving polls at Salem High School, just a few miles from Moulton's Chestnut Street home, said they voted for him because they had some sort of personal connection.
"I actually, through my brother, know him personally," said Salem resident Tom Cahill. "He's doing a good job."
Others who don't know him said they supported Moulton because of the work he's put into his first three terms.
"He's done a really good job," said Lauren Demeo, a Salem resident.
Moulton cast his ballot early Tuesday afternoon at the Community Life Center with his 2-year-old daughter Emmy in tow.
"I voted by mail for the primary, but we were actually quarantined for the last two weeks, so I decided to vote in person on Election Day," Moulton said. "But the point is you can vote either way. There are a lot of ways to exercise your rights as an American."
Outside the polling place, Moulton criticized Trump's stances on early and mail-in voting.
"This election has brought out the opportunity of mail-in voting, which is totally secure," Moulton said. "There's no issue with fraud with mail-in ballots, despite what the president of the United States says. As a result of having mail-in ballots, hundreds of thousands of additional Americans are voting."
That, Moulton said, will be a lesson learned under the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I hope that's one of the legacies of this terrible pandemic," Moulton said. "The opportunity in this pandemic and this disaster is for us to continue to expand the right to vote to more Americans."