Bedford sits in the southwestern corner of Massachusetts’ sixth congressional district, which extends to the New Hampshire border and includes much of the North Shore. Our current representative in the House of Representatives is Seth Moulton, a Democrat who was first elected in 2014 and was re-elected in 2016 and 2018.
Rep. Moulton is running for re-election and is being challenged by Republican John Paul Moran. No other candidates for this office appear on the ballot. Moulton won the Democratic primary on September 1, receiving 78% of the vote in a field that included Jamie Belsito and Angus McQuilken. Moran was unopposed in the Republican primary.
Who is John Paul Moran?
Moran is a businessman who has not previously run for public office. He majored in optics at Rochester University, and after graduation worked on the space-based telescope project at MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington.
He is a founder of Blue Wave Marketing, a digital marketing firm in Boston, and California Surf Lifestyle Brand. He has an MBA from Boston University and has lived in Billerica for the last 22 years. His campaign website describes him as a “conservative gay American” who will be a “strong, independent and unconventional voice for Massachusetts.” His 2016 book “Cues for Conservatives” argues for a younger and more diverse conservative movement.
Who is Seth Moulton?
Moulton grew up in Marblehead and now lives in Salem with his wife and daughter. He joined the Marines in 2001 after graduating from Harvard with a degree in physics. He served four tours in Iraq, was awarded a bronze star, and reached the rank of captain before leaving the Marines in 2008.
After receiving a master’s degree in business and public policy from Harvard in 2011, he was managing director of Texas Central Railway.
He was elected to Congress in 2014, replacing fellow Democrat John Tierney, and won re-election in 2016 and 2018. He serves on the House Armed Services and Budget Committees. He was part of the rebel faction of Democrats who unsuccessfully tried to oust Nancy Pelosi as Speaker in 2019. He ran for president later that year but did not qualify for the televised debates and dropped out before any votes were cast.
What do they want to do?
Moulton and Moran don’t just disagree on particular issues; their goals and interests also diverge.
Moran would like to be a “voice for small business” in Congress and proposes to start a Defense of Small Business Coalition in the House. He wants to establish a U.S. Opportunity Corps, a two-year post-high-school program that would support internships and apprenticeships. “Opportunity” is a key word for Moran, who told CBSN Boston “I believe the purpose of government is delivering opportunity for everyone.”
The top issue on the “Priorities” page of Moulton’s campaign website is “Keeping our country safe and secure,” which he would accomplish by “fighting smarter” with new technology rather than continuing to build “outdated, costly weapons systems.” He also stresses the importance of alliances.
His second priority is “Preventing Gun Violence” through “commonsense gun reform”: an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, red-flag laws, and not letting people on a no-fly list buy guns.
What are their positions on major issues?
Moulton explicitly aligns his position with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden: He supports expanding Obamacare and adding a public option. Moran is critical of Obamacare and warns that expanding it could lead to the government taking over healthcare entirely, which is one-sixth of the economy. Instead, he supports “market-based healthcare options.”
The two candidates disagree about how Massachusetts has been fighting the pandemic. Moulton has criticized Governor Baker for continuing to reopen the state’s economy when the number of cases is rising again. Moran applauded the same action, and questioned the shutdown more generally, tweeting “I have yet to see the science behind the shutdown, and we need to protect our small businesses!” In an NECN interview, he faulted a government response that has failed to save many small businesses “while big businesses have had record profits, many of them. And that’s just not fair.”
In the debate with his primary challengers, Moulton called climate change an “existential crisis.” He has announced support for the Green New Deal put forward by Senator Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but has also at times backed away from specifics of the proposal, such as a federal jobs guarantee. In the primary debate he said, “I want to shape what this Green New Deal looks like” and mentioned three things it must include: leading the world in carbon-free technology, solving the problem in the developing world as well as the developed world, and carbon capture.
Moran’s website proposes to protect the environment with “realistic, science-based solutions,” but gives no examples, and warns that we should “not cave to the alarmist, anti-science climate activist agenda whose ‘cure’ is far worse than the ‘disease’.” In a video he posted on Facebook, Moran characterized the Green New Deal as “an insane proposition that is not based at all on science” but instead “will destroy our economy.”
Race and Policing
Moran, whose brother has been a policeman for 30 years, opposes any effort to divert funding from police departments, saying “99.9% of police are faithful, great servants of the public, and while some common-sense changes are certainly due, we need to support them, not defund them. … Defunding and dismantling the police will lead to crime rates and shootings never seen before in our country.” In another video he adds: “There is absolutely no proof of police racial bias in our state. … There is no systematic racism in policing nationally, either, and the data proves it.”
Moulton’s website describes systemic racism as “prevalent,” and says “We need to rethink the way we police in this country. We should be diverting funds from police departments to social services; from policing crime to preventing crime; for providing more mental health support to people in our communities before they get caught up in the criminal justice system.”
Immigration and the Border
Moulton opposes President Trump’s border wall and believes we should raise rather than cut foreign aid to the Central American nations whose citizens come to the U.S. looking for asylum. He proposes “a path to citizenship for everyone in America.”
Moran relates the border wall to the opioid crisis and sex trafficking: “These issues are one and the same.” He also strongly opposes sanctuary cities, which he calls “seditious cities.”
Moran calls for lower taxes. Moulton wants to reverse the Trump tax cut and tax capital gains at the same rate as wages.