Auchincloss reflects on 1st year in Congress unlike most any other

Rep. Jake Auchincloss, the newest member of the state’s congressional delegation, is finishing his first year in the House. To say it’s been a tumultuous initiation to Congress would be an understatement. His first days in office saw a mob-led insurrection in the Capitol building, and he faced a vote soon after on impeachment of a sitting president. 

Auchincloss, a 33-year-old Newton Democrat who won the seat vacated by Joe Kennedy, says on The Codcast that the jarring events of his early days in office have cast into sharp relief the natural tension that exists between staying true to the values of the constituents you represent while also working to advance their priorities.  

“I think I knew heading in that it was going to be a volatile year,” he said. “I think I knew heading in that Trump’s hold on the [Republican] party was not going to slip away. But I still have been surprised by how many Republicans were willing to vote to decertify the election results. That, to me, standing in the House chamber on January 6, literally on top of broken glass and watching Republicans stand up and object to Arizona and Pennsylvania, is a moment that’s just never going to leave me for its demonstration of political cowardice and for reflecting the exact opposite of the ideal of country before self.” 

Auchincloss decided that the values he represents mean not working with any of the 139 Republican House members who voted against certifying a fairly conducted election. At the same time, he said, working to advance priorities of importance to his district means trying to find common ground with other Republicans where he can. “If you voted the right way on January 6, even if we may disagree on a number of other things, we will roll up our sleeves in good faith and, and try to find solutions [with you],” he said. “And that’s kind of the dividing line I’ve drawn.”

Auchincloss is a vocal supporter of President Biden, and he has repeatedly expressed optimism that the president’s sweeping social safety net and climate bill – dubbed Build Back Better – will ultimately pass, a view he continues to hold even after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin effectively killed the bill in its present form. 

“I’m confident that a number of the priorities embedded in Build Back Better will pass,” he said, citing its three key pillars of lowering health care costs, the child care tax credit, and tackling climate change.

Though he pointed out that Republicans uniformly vowed to oppose the bill before even seeing it, Auchincloss has been willing to engage conservative thinkers, making regular appearances to offer a Democratic viewpoint on Fox News. 

“I think Pete Buttigieg modeled this effectively during his campaign for president,” he said of Buttigieg’s willingness to spar with Fox interviewers. “We need to talk to each other as a country. And if we cast aspersions on the motives and the character of anybody who disagrees with us on any issue, we are going to continue into this vortex of mutual distrust and polarization and acrimony.”

Auchincloss, a moderate in the nine-way Democratic primary in the Fourth Congressional District, which reaches from Newton and Brookline all the way south to Fall River, won the nomination with just 22 percent of the vote. That immediately led to speculation that he could face a more liberal primary challenger when making his first reelection bid. A first-time candidate, Emily Burns, has declared she’ll make a Republican run for the seat next year, but no Democratic challengers have yet emerged. 

Meet the Author

Michael Jonas

Executive Editor, CommonWealth

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

About Michael Jonas

Michael Jonas has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since the early 1980s. Before joining the CommonWealth staff in early 2001, he was a contributing writer for the magazine for two years. His cover story in CommonWealth's Fall 1999 issue on Boston youth outreach workers was selected for a PASS (Prevention for a Safer Society) Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Michael got his start in journalism at the Dorchester Community News, a community newspaper serving Boston's largest neighborhood, where he covered a range of urban issues. Since the late 1980s, he has been a regular contributor to the Boston Globe. For 15 years he wrote a weekly column on local politics for the Boston Sunday Globe's City Weekly section.

Michael has also worked in broadcast journalism. In 1989, he was a co-producer for "The AIDS Quarterly," a national PBS series produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, and in the early 1990s, he worked as a producer for "Our Times," a weekly magazine program on WHDH-TV (Ch. 7) in Boston.

Michael lives in Dorchester with his wife and their two daughters.

Asked if he thinks he’ll face a Democratic primary challenge, Auchincloss said, “I don’t know and, frankly, I’m not spending a lot of time dwelling on that. I’m going to be judged by my job performance in November, and I am confident that I have done a good job and that I can communicate what we’ve done to voters.” 

He may not be dwelling a lot on a possible primary challenge, but he’s certainly been working hard to be ready for it – or perhaps even try to short-circuit such a move – by bankrolling $1.9 million in his campaign account as of the end of September. Auchincloss has also formed both a federal and state-level PAC, raising money to spend helping fellow Democrats in congressional races around the country and in contests for state legislative seats in his district.