Moulton soldiers on despite lack of traction

Recalls he was way behind in initial congressional bid

US REPRESENTATIVE SETH MOULTON is one of 24 Democratic candidates running to challenge President Donald Trump, but hasn’t even been able to qualify for the first two rounds of debates. The son of Salem has been on the campaign trail since April, prioritizing national security and veteran issues in his 2020 bid.

Earlier this week, not a single person in a Boston Globe/Suffolk University poll of likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters said he was their top choice.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Moulton has raised about $2 million, a third of which was left over from his Congressional campaign, much less than other candidates. Meanwhile, top staff are leaving, including Adnan Mohamed, Moulton’s deputy national political director, who is now with Beto O’Rourke’s campaign. The Moulton campaign has said it is restructuring the 25-person staff.

It’s a crowded field, made even more crowded by the local competition of US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is polling in second behind former Vice President Joe Biden.

Despite all signs pointing to a dwindling campaign, Moulton said any rumors of his exiting the race before Labor Day are false. He told the Daily Item’s Tom Grillo, “It’s not true. It depends on how it goes, I don’t think the summer debates will determine who voters will support in February.”

Moulton remembers his slow start in his initial congressional campaign, and sees parallels in his presidential bid. He was down 53 points in the first poll taken in early 2014 against incumbent John F. Tierney. He later beat the 18-year congressman 51 percent to 40 percent. He’s won two subsequent elections.

“We have only been in the presidential race for three months,” he said. “I’ve been in tough primaries before and if my message wasn’t resonating, and if people were not encouraging me to keep going, then I’d look at getting out, but that’s not what I’m hearing.”

But how will the former Marine Corps officer get out his message if he’s not even at the national microphone?

Meet the Author

Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth magazine

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

The Democratic National Committee’s threshold for participation in September’s debate is at least 2 percent of support in a group of polls, with 130,000 unique donors.

As the Globe notes, Moulton is special in one way in particular, and it isn’t a good one. He’s had zero support in every qualifying poll for debates since the inception of his campaign.