Seth Wilbur Moulton (born October 24, 1978) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Massachusetts’s 6th congressional district since 2015. A former Marine Corps officer, he is a member of the Democratic Party.
After graduating from Harvard University in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in physics, Moulton joined the United States Marine Corps. He served four tours in Iraq and then went on to earn his master’s degrees in business and public policy in a dual program at Harvard. He entered politics in 2014, running for Massachusetts’s 6th congressional district, and won reelection in 2016 and 2018.
In early 2019, Moulton was seen as a potential presidential candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2020. Publicly expressing his interest in the prospect, he traveled to early primary states. Moulton announced his candidacy on April 22, 2019, but he failed to gain traction and withdrew from the race on August 23.
Early life, education, and commission
Moulton was born on October 24, 1978, in Salem, Massachusetts, to Lynn Alice (née Meader), a secretary, and Wilbur Thomas Moulton, Jr., a real estate attorney. Moulton has two younger siblings, Eliza and Cyrus, and grew up in Marblehead, Massachusetts. He graduated from Phillips Academy, a co-educational boarding and day university-preparatory school in Andover, Massachusetts in 1997, and attended Harvard University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics in 2001. He gave the Undergraduate English Oration at his commencement, focusing on the importance of service.
Moulton joined the Marine Corps after graduation, a few months before the September 11 attacks, and attended the Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia. After graduating in 2002 with the rank of second lieutenant, Moulton was among the first service members to enter Baghdad at the beginning of the Iraq War.
During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Moulton led one of the first infantry platoons to enter Baghdad. He served a total of four tours of duty in Iraq from 2003 to 2008. Moulton took part in the 2003 Battle of Nasiriyah, leading a platoon that cleared a hostile stronghold. In that action, he went to the aid of a Marine wounded by friendly fire, and for his actions he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for valor. Moulton was active in combat against insurgent forces in Iraq, including the 2004 Battle of Najaf against the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr. Over two days, he “fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire” as his platoon was pinned down under heavy fire and then directed the supporting fire that repelled the attack. He received the Bronze Star Medal for his actions in this battle.
He told only his campaign manager about these awards, keeping them secret even from his parents. When Boston Globe reporter Walter V. Robinson disclosed in October 2014 that Moulton had earned the Bronze Star and the Commendation Medal, Moulton said that “[t]here is a healthy disrespect among veterans who served on the front lines for people who walk around telling war stories”. He said he was uncomfortable calling attention to his own awards out of respect to “many others who did heroic things and received no awards at all.” He asked Robinson not to refer to him as a hero: “Look, we served our country, and we served the guys next to us. And it’s not something to brag about.” The Globe reported that “his voice choked with emotion” as he added: “The greatest honor of my life was to lead these men in my platoon, even though it was a war that I and they disagreed with.”
In 2008, General David Petraeus requested that Moulton be assigned to work as a special liaison with tribal leaders in Southern Iraq during his fourth tour of duty in Iraq. Following that tour, Moulton was discharged from the Marine Corps with the rank of captain.
In 2003, Moulton co-hosted a television program with his Iraqi interpreter, Mohammed Harba, called “Moulton and Mohammed,” during which they discussed regional conditions in the period following the U.S. invasion before an audience of U.S. servicemen and Iraqi citizens. The show ended after three months when Moulton’s unit left the area.
Between 2003 and 2008, Moulton was frequently interviewed about his experiences as an officer in Iraq by U.S. national media, including CNN, MSNBC, and NPR programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
— No End in Sight, Seth Moulton, on the Iraq occupation
Moulton was also prominently featured in the 2007 Academy Award-nominated documentary No End in Sight. In the film, Moulton criticized the U.S. government’s handling of the occupation of Iraq. UCLA anthropology professor Sherry Ortner wrote that Moulton’s comments “sum[med] up the emotional tone of the film.”
Private sector career
Following his return from active duty with the Marines in 2008, Moulton attended a dual-degree program at the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School, earning master’s degrees in business and public policy in 2011. After graduate school, Moulton worked for one year as managing director of the Texas Central Railway, a transportation firm. In 2011, Moulton and a graduate school classmate founded Eastern Healthcare Partners, which Moulton has invoked to show he was a “successful entrepreneur” who understands “what it’s like to face that day when you might not meet payroll.” The company raised investor funds and drafted a partnership agreement with Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, but in October 2014 the Boston Globe reported that by the time Moulton ran for Congress, EHP had no revenue, was still incubating, and had closed its only Massachusetts office.
U.S. House of Representatives
Moulton had considered running against Democratic Representative John F. Tierney of Massachusetts’s 6th congressional district as an Independent in the 2012 elections, but he decided against it in July 2012, saying that “the time and the logistics of putting together all the campaign infrastructure, organizing the volunteers … the fundraising—it’s just too much to accomplish in three months.” Had he run and been elected, he would have caucused with the Democrats. He told Roll Call that his own polling “showed there was in fact a clear path to victory” and said he might run for office in the future.
The race had been recognized for its competitiveness by national and regional media throughout the election cycle. Moulton challenged Tierney in the Democratic primary. According to Time magazine political columnist Joe Klein, Moulton “refused to distinguish himself from Tierney on most issues. He’s running on freshness and dynamism.” The Boston Globe editorial board wrote: “Moulton and Tierney share nearly identical political views, but Moulton’s background, and his approach to discussing the issues, suggests an openness to new perspectives.”
Tierney’s campaign claimed in campaign advertisements that Moulton received campaign contributions from a New Hampshire political action committee that previously donated only to Republicans, implying that Moulton must hold conservative views. Moulton denied being more conservative than his opponent, and stated that the Republican PAC donation was returned. Public Federal Election Commission filings confirmed that the donation was returned in February 2014.
Moulton said that he opposed the Iraq War in which he served. A Tierney campaign staff member said that Moulton had “changed his mind” and highlighted Tierney’s vote in Congress to oppose the 2002 resolution authorizing the U.S. Invasion of Iraq. Moulton also received the first-ever political endorsement from Ret. Gen. Stanley McChrystal during the campaign.
Moulton defeated Tierney in the primary with 50.8% of the vote to Tierney’s 40.1%.
Moulton was endorsed by Senator Elizabeth Warren for the general election. In October 2014, he withdrew from a debate sponsored by radio station WGBH because of a series of New York fundraisers, where he welcomed Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The campaigns of Moulton and his Republican opponent, Richard Tisei, were held up as an example of how candidates can compete with respect for each other.
Moulton defeated Tisei in the general election.
Moulton was uncontested for reelection in 2016.
Moulton ran against Republican candidate Joseph Schneider in 2018. He won with 65.2% of the vote.
2020 presidential campaign
Moulton had been widely speculated on as a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2020. He traveled to early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire in March 2019.
Moulton officially announced his candidacy on April 22, 2019, with his website being updated that day to show it was paid for by “Seth Moulton for America.” On August 23, 2019, he suspended his campaign and withdrew from the race. During his campaign, Moulton never polled above 2% in any of the 2020 Democratic presidential opinion polls, and he was not invited to the first two Democratic presidential debates, having failed to meet the criteria for invitation. Several constituents of Moulton expressed disappointment over Moulton’s decision to run for president in 2020.
In Moulton’s campaign advertisements, he has called himself a “progressive Democrat”.
Moulton is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a congressional caucus made up of Democrats who support an agenda described as “moderate”, “pro-growth”, and “fiscally responsible”. Moulton was ranked the 34th most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives during the 114th United States Congress (as well as the most bipartisan member of Congress in either chamber from Massachusetts and the most bipartisan member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New England) in the Bipartisan Index created by The Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy that ranks members of the United States Congress by their degree of bipartisanship (by measuring the frequency each member’s bills attract co-sponsors from the opposite party and each member’s co-sponsorship of bills by members of the opposite party).
Moulton has admitted to using marijuana and supports the legalization of the drug, saying, “If you’re not buying your marijuana from a dealer who sells heroin, who sells opioids, it’s much less likely to be a gateway drug. The problem is now that it operates in the shadows. There’s no control whatsoever. Someone goes and buys an edible, for example, there’s no regulation about what’s in that. It’s like moonshine under Prohibition.”
In September 2018, Moulton co-sponsored, together with Elise Stefanik and Dan Donovan, the “Cyber Ready Workforce Act” advanced by Jacky Rosen. The legislation would create a grant program within the Department of Labor to “create, implement and expand registered apprenticeships” in cybersecurity. It aims to offer certifications and connect participants with businesses in order to “boost the number” of workers for federal jobs in said trade.
Moulton is the driving force behind the North-South Rail Link, a project aimed at uniting Boston’s north and south-side MBTA Commuter Rail lines, decongesting its subway lines, and linking the commuter rail to Logan International Airport via the Blue Line. He is an avid proponent of public transportation and frequently rides the commuter rail.
Moulton supports the expansion of nuclear energy. Moulton supports the Green New Deal.
Views on President Trump
In a March 2016 interview with The Boston Globe, Moulton compared the rise of the Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, with Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s. Moulton said that, in order to understand how an educated society “can elect a demagogue,” voters should read about how the German people elected Hitler in the early 20th century.
Moulton walked out of President Trump’s State of the Union address in 2020 citing the portion of the president’s address about the administration’s contributions to the military and service members. Moulton later clarified his reason for walking out: “Trump—a draft dodger who has mocked Sen. John McCain, Gold Star families, and soldiers with traumatic brain injury—started talking about the good he has done for our military.”
On June 15, 2016, Moulton appeared on the cover of the New York Daily News with the statement “No Civilian Should Own This Gun” in reference to semi-automatic “assault weapons“. The cover pictures Moulton during a deployment to Iraq, carrying an issued M4 carbine. The particular gun in the picture has never been legal for civilians to own due to the Hughes Amendment in 1986.
Moulton penned an opinion piece promoting gun control, including the statement: “There’s simply no reason for a civilian to own a military-style assault weapon. It’s no different than why we outlaw civilian ownership of rockets and landmines.”
On June 23, 2017, Moulton announced on Twitter his engagement to his girlfriend, Liz Boardman, a senior client partner at an executive search firm. They were married at the Old North Church, Marblehead, Massachusetts, on September 22, 2017. Moulton announced the birth of the couple’s first child, a girl named Emmy, in October 2018.
|2014||Seth Moulton||50.8%||John F. Tierney||40.1%|
|2014||Seth Moulton||55.0%||Richard Tisei||41.1%|
|2018||Seth Moulton||65.2%||Joseph Schneider||31.4%|
- Moulton was the sole candidate in the primary election.
- Moulton was the sole candidate in the primary election.
- Moulton was the sole candidate for the House election and won the election uncontested.
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- Sanchez, Stephen (April 22, 2019). “SPOTTED: @sethmoulton is running for president. His website now says it is paid for by “Seth Moulton for America.”pic.twitter.com/8iDvlxdrCl”. @SSanchezTV. Retrieved April 22, 2019.
- “Seth Moulton ends presidential campaign”. NBC News. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
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- Phyllis Karas (February 2008). “How the Moultons Made Peace with the War”. Boston Magazine.
- “0695. Lynn Alice Meade”. Meader Family Organization. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
- Gomes, Peter J. (2003). The Good Life: Truths That Last in Times of Need. HarperOne. p. 365. Archived from the original on November 6, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
- “Seth Moulton ’97 talks about service on April 22”. Phillips Academy. Archived from the original on August 4, 2017.
- “War Profiles: Seth W. Moulton ’01, 2nd Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps”. Harvard Crimson. June 5, 2003.
- Jeremy W. Peters (February 8, 2015). “Disillusioned in Iraq, but Prodded to Serve Again”. New York Times.
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- “Director’s Interview: Charles Ferguson”. PBS. April 20, 2007.
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- Comments, Email to a Friend Share on Facebook Share on TwitterPrint this Article View. “Small businesses are sometimes . . . really small”. BostonGlobe.com.
- “Massachusetts: Independent Seth Moulton Will Not Run”. Roll Call. July 23, 2012. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
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- Ballotpedia: Seth Moulton
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- “Membership”. Congressional Arts Caucus. Retrieved March 21, 2018.
- “90 Current Climate Solutions Caucus Members”. Citizen´s Climate Lobby. Retrieved October 18, 2018.
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- “Members”. New Democrat Coalition. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
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- Snow, Justin (October 30, 2014). “Democrat Seth Moulton rejects support from same-sex marriage opponents”. Metro Weekly. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
- Zengerle, Jason (November 4, 2014). “This Massachusetts Race Will Restore Your Faith in Our Democracy”. New Republic. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
- Clauss, Kyle Scott (September 19, 2016). “Seth Moulton Says He Smoked Pot at Harvard, Supports Legalization”. Boston Magazine. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
- Thomsen, Jacqueline (September 13, 2018). “Dem introduces bill to create federal cybersecurity apprenticeship program”. The Hill. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
- “Look to Texas Model for Boston rail link”. Capital New York. March 24, 2016.
- “Riding the rails with Moulton”. Salem News. March 29, 2016.
- Wade, Christian M. (October 29, 2015). “Pilgrim’s closure revives nuclear energy debate”. The Eagle-Tribune. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
- “Seth Moulton Explains Why He Walked Out Of The State Of The Union Address”. www.wbur.org. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
- “No Civilian Should Own This Weapon”. New York Daily News. June 15, 2016. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
- Moulton, Seth (June 14, 2016). “Civilians have no reason for owning assault weapons, but Congress lacks the courage to stop them: Congressman and Iraq War vet”. New York Daily News. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
- Shanahan, Mark (June 23, 2017). “Congressman Seth Moulton announces engagement”. Boston Globe. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
- Shanahan, Mark, BOSTON GLOBE, Sept., 22, 2017
- “Seth Moulton announces birth of his first child – The Boston Globe”. BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
- “2014 U.S. House Democratic Primary – 6th Congressional District”. Election Stats. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
- “2016 U.S. House Democratic Primary – 6th Congressional District”. Election Stats. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
- “2014 U.S. House General Election – 6th Congressional District”. Election Stats. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
- “2016 U.S. House General Election – 6th Congressional District”. Election Stats. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
- Congressman Seth Moulton official U.S. House site
- Seth Moulton for Congress
- Seth Moulton at Curlie
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Appearances on C-SPAN
|U.S. House of Representatives|
John F. Tierney
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts’s 6th congressional district
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Representatives by seniority
|114th||Senate: E. Warren • E. Markey||House: R. Neal • J. McGovern • M. Capuano • S. Lynch • N. Tsongas • B. Keating • J. Kennedy III • K. Clark • S. Moulton|
|115th||Senate: E. Warren • E. Markey||House: R. Neal • J. McGovern • M. Capuano • S. Lynch • N. Tsongas • B. Keating • J. Kennedy III • K. Clark • S. Moulton|
|116th||Senate: E. Warren • E. Markey||House: R. Neal • J. McGovern • S. Lynch • B. Keating • J. Kennedy III • K. Clark • S. Moulton • A. Pressley • L. Trahan|