SALEM, Mass. — Congressman Seth Moulton's White House bid could put Essex County in the limelight.
Moulton, 40, launched his presidential campaign Monday, joining a large field of Democrats. The announcement also makes him the third Massachusetts politician running for president, following U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, and former Gov. Bill Weld, a Republican who is challenging President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.
For Salem, Massachusetts, Mayor Kim Driscoll, that just makes the 2020 race more interesting for those living in the 6th District.
"To have three candidates running for president from Massachusetts (Warren, Weld, Moulton) in the same election cycle means we’ll be seeing and hearing from people we know and are familiar with, only now they’ll be on the national stage," she said in an email. "This will add a touch of local excitement to an already high profile, high stakes presidential race."
Robert Bradford, president of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce, said Moulton's candidacy should reflect well on the region.
"I think Seth Moulton is very well-liked and respected by the business and community leaders," Bradford said.
Moulton, he said, doesn't lose his cool, responds to the needs of businesses, and is a viable candidate.
"People will know much more concisely what the North Shore is about and what we are made of," Bradford said.
Locally, Moulton's 6th District includes North Andover, Boxford, Georgetown, Groveland, Merrimac, Middleton, Newbury, Newburyport, North Reading, Salisbury, Tewksbury, West Newbury and parts of Andover. He was first elected to Congress in 2014.
Moulton's hometown of Marblehead, and images of Fort Sewall on the rocky northeastern tip of town, features prominently in Moulton's campaign launch video. Longtime Marblehead Selectman Judith Jacobi said she's been getting calls and emails from friends and relatives around the country about it.
"I'm a huge supporter of Seth Moulton's," Jacobi said. "Obviously, I think we are very proud of him, to have someone of his character step up and represent the town."
Too soon to say?
Daniel Mulcare, a political science professor at Salem State University, isn't convinced that Moulton's presidential will make much difference for the region.
"To me, right now, I don't think there is going to be a raise in stature for a couple of reasons," he said, pointing to the crowded field of Democratic candidates and what he called diluted interest in Moulton's fledgling candidacy in various news reports.
Still, Mulcare said Moulton is one of the few candidates in which "where he comes from is going to matter," much like New Jersey Sen. and 2020 presidential candidate Cory Booker is identified with his time as mayor of Newark.
Peabody resident Mike Schulze, who has long been active in Democratic politics, said other candidates have made a point to stump in the area.
"We've always had a lot of attention here on the North Shore," he said.
He pointed to former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, who visited the area a few times during his 1984 presidential campaign, appearing at the Holiday Inn in Peabody, the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem. Schulze was also a strong backer of former Secretary of State John Kerry, who came to Schulze's house on a few occasions.
Schulze said he thinks Moulton can raise the profile of the region, "because he's going to claim so much from the North Shore."
Michael Harrington, former 6th District congressman and owner of the Hawthorne Hotel, said running for president is an enormous undertaking, but the region has been in the spotlight before. Beverly, where Harrington lives, was the summer home to President William Taft from 1909 to 1912.
"I think we have produced our share of heavy hitters over the years," Harrington said.