Moulton says congressional midterms are key

Says he will remain neutral in the Capuano-Pressley race

US REP. SETH MOULTON spoke to the New England Council Friday morning on the importance of the midterm elections, where he stands in the Capuano-Pressley race, legislative redistricting, and his newest transportation passion – regional rail. Here’s a rundown of what he had to say:

2018 midterms

One questioner in the audience more than hinted that Moulton should run for president in 2020, but the congressman said his focus is on winning this year’s midterm elections and returning the House to Democratic control.

“If Democrats can’t figure out how to win in 2018, we’re toast for 2020,” Moulton said.

The congressman said he has endorsed 19 candidates making House runs, specifically mentioning fellow veterans such as Amy McGrath in Kentucky and Mikie Sherill in New Jersey.

“We’re realizing how important it is for a new generation of leadership to come into Washington, and for a new generation of supporters and activists to help them get there,” he said. “For too long, we’ve just been trying to solve a new generation of problems with an old generation of solutions and leaders.”

As for the 2020 presidential election, Moulton said he doesn’t think a Democrat can win by trying to out-Trump Trump. “If the Democrats are going to win in 2020, it has to be someone who is the opposite of Trump, someone who does actually have the courage to be honest; someone who talks about the future, not the past; someone who tries to bring America together again, where Trump has succeeded in driving us further apart.”

Moulton said his vision for the future includes an emphasis on 21st century infrastructure (more on that below) and skills development to help workers keep pace with the fast-changing job landscape. He said he is crafting legislation to create what he called lifelong career development accounts, a way to help individuals finance education when they’re 22, 35, 50, or 62.

What’s he doing in the Capuano-Pressley race?

Despite his talk about the need for a new generation of leadership in Washington, Moulton isn’t endorsing Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley in her primary race against Democratic incumbent Michael Capuano. He is remaining neutral, however.

“I remember when I took on a sitting incumbent, all the other members of the delegation got behind the sitting incumbent,” he said in a telephone interview after his talk at the Boston Harbor Hotel. “So I think I would be a hypocrite if I were to do that based on my own experience. So I’m going to stay out of it. It’s good to have people stepping up who want to run. We have a wonderful democratic system that lets the voters decide.”

Roadblocks to advancement

Moulton, in response to a question, said he would welcome term limits for Democratic leadership positions in Congress, but he’s not holding his breath.

“We are not a caucus that promotes based on talent or ability,” he said. “Under our current leadership, we’re a caucus that promotes on one thing – it’s not seniority as much as it is simply loyalty.”

Massachusetts redistricting

Moulton said a Democratic state senator recently explained to him how redistricting works in Massachusetts. He said he suggested creating a nonpartisan redistricting process to take the political parties out of it. “He looked at me like I had two heads,” Moulton said, referring to the unnamed senator.

His latest transportation passion

Moulton has become a leading advocate for a rail link between North and South stations, but now he is setting his sights on an even bigger transportation project – transforming the state’s commuter rail system into a regional rail network equipped with fast, electric trains.

He’s talked up the idea of regional rail occasionally in the past, but now he has joined a new coalition to promote the idea and build support for it. The group is called the Coalition for Regional Rail and its founding members include Moulton, Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, state Sen. Eric Lesser, Mayor Michael Cahill of Beverly, Dan O’Connell of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, and Hugh Grant of the SouthCoast Development Partnership.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

“This isn’t a project that should require a lot of lobbying because it just makes sense, but we have to explain to people what it means,” Moulton said.

“We’re not talking about repairing this old-fashioned commuter rail system that we have. We’re talking about building a truly competitive 21st century regional rail system where you can get to different parts of the Commonwealth more quickly than you can get there by driving,” he said. “That’s the kind of transformative infrastructure we need. Investing in old infrastructure is not going to make us competitive.”