SALEM — The day after his decisive victory over Richard Tisei to become the 6th District’s first new congressman in nearly 20 years, Seth Moulton was busy thanking staff and supporters, planning for the future and sending messages of bipartisanship.
“Thank you so much to the voters of the district, I’m humbled that you’ve put your faith in me, and I will work hard on your behalf,” Moulton said in a phone interview with The Salem News. “So many people told us we didn’t have a chance and we couldn’t win.”
“It’s energizing, and it’s exciting, but it’s also humbling.”
Moulton trounced Tisei by a margin of roughly 55 to 41 percent in the midterm elections on Tuesday, a victory that proved the political newcomer had been able to connect with supporters of Congressman John Tierney, whom he knocked out of the race in the primary.
But the congressman-elect wasn’t resting on his laurels on Wednesday. The morning after a post-election celebration that lasted late into the night at the Salem Waterfront Hotel, Moulton was out at the Salem MBTA station starting at 6:30 a.m., thanking voters and talking with commuters.
He said he’d managed to sleep a few hours in between.
“I was plenty tired, so I didn’t have any difficulty getting to sleep,” he said.
From the train station, Moulton made his way to the Ugly Mug Diner on Washington Street. From there, the day held an assortment of meetings, appointments and interviews, with two stops scheduled in Lynn later in the evening to connect with constituents.
It was all part of his intention to “hit the ground running,” Moulton said, adding that his first priorities included working with business and political leaders on growing the economies of Lynn and other gateway cities, and working to reform the federal Veterans Affairs system, about which he said, “I have some ideas, some serious ideas, but now the hard work begins.”
“I’m not going to waste any time,” he said.
Moulton said he’d received a congratulatory call on Tuesday night from Vice President Joe Biden, who recently appeared with him at a campaign event in Lynn.
“He was very proud to come up and support my campaign, and I told him I was proud ... to have him come to the district,” Moulton said.
About 11:30 p.m., President Barack Obama called. It was the first time the two had spoken.
“He said he’s excited for my win, he thanked me for my service in the Marines, and he said that he looked forward to working with me in Washington to figure out how we can get some things done for the American people,” Moulton said.
One person who didn’t call Moulton on election night was Tierney. Moulton said he’d spoken with the sitting congressman twice since the primary — once on the phone, and once for a quick, private meeting in Salem — but that he hadn’t called after the election results were in.
The meeting in Salem, which took place a few weeks ago, was just to “touch base,” Moulton said.
“I just told him I looked forward to working with him,” he said. “I told him if I was successful in getting elected, I would make sure that we had a very smooth transition for our constituents.”
Moulton said he anticipated meeting with Tierney again before taking office in January to work toward that goal.
“That’s the right thing to do for the people of the district,” he said.
Plenty of stuff has to be figured out still, like whether Moulton will rent an apartment in Washington or whether campaign staff like spokesperson Carrie Rankin will stay on to work for him. In any case, Moulton said he was keeping his eyes on the political work ahead.
“The number one priority for the district is jobs and economic growth,” he said.
Regarding Tisei, Moulton said the past few months had been “a tough battle, but our race has been held up as a model for how campaigns should be run, and I’m proud of that, and I know he is, too.”
“It doesn’t mean we didn’t have disagreements about some of the conduct of the campaign,” Moulton said. “I wish it had not been so negative ... but overall, I think people were pleased to see a campaign based on ideas rather than attacks.”
As for Tisei’s supporters, Moulton said: “My message is that I want to earn their trust and support, and I will work hard to be a congressman for the entire district, every city and town, and every citizen, regardless of who they supported in the election.”
When asked whether he had any presidential aspirations, Moulton offered a rare laugh.
“This is the first time I’ve ever run for anything,” he said. “I’m just going to be focused on being a good congressman.”
Attempts to reach Tierney and Tisei for comment were unsuccessful.
Neil H. Dempsey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @neilhdempsey.