BEVERLY — Seth Moulton has four tours of duty in Iraq, three degrees from Harvard and the enthusiasm of a 34-year-old launching his first political campaign.
What he doesn’t have is name recognition. Yesterday, the Salem resident and Marblehead native began the long process of trying to penetrate the consciousness of voters in the 6th Congressional District.
With the election more than a year away, Moulton kicked off his campaign to beat Congressman John Tierney in the Democratic primary by visiting train stations and coffee shops in Salem, Beverly, Gloucester and Lynn.
One of his stops was the Atomic Cafe in downtown Beverly, where Moulton politely interrupted customers as they sipped their specialty coffees and perused their laptops.
“I’m a Democrat, and I’m running against John Tierney,” he said as he sat down at a window table with Beverly resident Mike Evers.
Moulton, in shirt and tie with his sleeves rolled up, told potential voters he’s running because “I think it’s time for a change.” He filled them in on his resume, which includes serving four tours of duty over five years in Iraq as a Marine infantry officer, as well as earning degrees from the Harvard Business School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
When Evers asked him how he would be different from Tierney, the nine-term incumbent from Salem, Moulton said, “I commend John on his service, but Congress today is known more for its two-party bickering. I was in the Marines, and we had people from all over the country. We were able to rise above our differences.”
After chatting with Moulton, Renya Onasik of Marblehead said he appeared “genuine” and “respectful.” Onasik does not know Moulton but had looked at his online campaign video after reading a story about his entrance into the race.
“I like the way he came across in the video,” she said. “He stated clearly, ‘I’m a Democrat,’ and he gave his credentials up front.”
Still, Onasik said Moulton will have a difficult time beating Tierney.
“(Tierney) is a professional politician, he’s got money, and he’s an incumbent. That’s a triple whammy,” Onasik said. “(Moulton) has a hard run ahead of him.”
Beverly resident Kevin Beckwith said he was interested to hear what Moulton had to say. But Beckwith also said he has learned not to be swayed by first impressions of a political candidate.
“I’ve heard his take before about change in Washington,” Beckwith said. “I have yet to see anybody do it.”
Moulton was accompanied by two aides, including Gavin Pascarella of Cambridge, who, like Moulton, is a Harvard graduate and a Marine officer.
“I just graduated from Harvard, and I thought I’d help Seth out before I go overseas,” Pascarella said. “I know how great of a leader he is in the military, so I know how great of a leader he’ll be as a civilian.”
Moulton, who is the co-founder and president of Eastern Healthcare Partners, started his morning at the Lynn train station. He went from there to the train station and Red’s Sandwich shop in Salem, stopped at the Beverly fire station, then was headed to Lobsta Land in Gloucester. He plans to visit all 39 communities in the district over the next 10 days.
“As with anything, when you start off, it can be a little intimidating,” he said of greeting voters. “One of the things I really miss about being in the Marines is the sense of serving people every day. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to go into public service again. I’ve got to be honest; I’m really enjoying it.”
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.