SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

July 12, 2013

Benton: An uphill race for Moulton

There’s no question Seth Moulton faces an uphill fight trying to wrest the Democratic nomination for the North Shore’s seat in Congress away from veteran incumbent John Tierney.

The North Shore’s congressman has not faced a challenge from within his own party since 2000 when he garnered 87 percent of the vote against Marblehead businessman David Francoeur’s 12 percent. (He went on to beat Republican Paul McCarthy in the final by a wide margin.)

Moulton is a Marblehead native who recently moved to Salem and boasts degrees from Harvard and an impressive military record. He had to be encouraged by the challenge that Republican Richard Tisei mounted against Tierney in 2012. The former state representative and lieutenant governor candidate from Wakefield won 47.1 percent of the vote to Tierney’s 48.3 percent.

For now, Moulton says his main issue will be the ineffectiveness of a Congress that, as a body, is held in low regard by the great majority of Americans. But it will be interesting to see whether he can resist rehashing details of the scandal involving Tierney’s fugitive brother-in-law, who runs an offshore gambling enterprise. (Fortunately for the incumbent, the new movie “Runner, Runner,” which stars Ben Affleck as the shady operator of a Caribbean-based gaming company, comes out this Sept. 27 — a full year before the primary, and any comparisons between this character and Patrice Tierney’s brother, Robert Eremian, should be long forgotten by then.)

It will also be interesting to see whether Moulton has the field to himself in challenging Tierney for the Democratic nomination. Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll would be considered a formidable challenger but reportedly has her eye on running statewide in 2014; while state Rep. John Keenan, D-Salem, is said to be considering a run for district attorney. Veteran state Rep. Steve Walsh has long coveted the 6th District seat in Congress, but family responsibilities and opportunities elsewhere apparently convinced him not to take on a vulnerable Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy this year, and his future political plans remain unknown.

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