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Moulton Gets Earful At Amesbury Town Hall For His Challenge Of Pelosi's Leadership03:40
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Rep. Seth Moulton D-Mass., is questioned in the basement of the Capitol by reporters on his way to meet with fellow Democrats about his opposition to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., becoming the speaker of the House when the Democrats take the majority in the 116th Congress. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Rep. Seth Moulton D-Mass., is questioned in the basement of the Capitol by reporters on his way to meet with fellow Democrats about his opposition to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., becoming the speaker of the House when the Democrats take the majority in the 116th Congress. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
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Among the Democrats leading the push against Nancy Pelosi returning as House speaker is Massachusetts U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton.

The congressman received some pushback from constituents at a town hall Monday night.

About 150 people showed up in Amesbury, including protesters who came in from out of town — many with signs that read, "I stand with Nancy" and, "Nancy rocks."

Isa Leshko came and called Moulton's campaign against Pelosi divisive.

"When we have worked so tirelessly to take back the House to hold [the Trump] administration accountable, Seth Moulton is willing to risk all of that in order to oust Nancy Pelosi from her leadership role," she said.

When Moulton entered the town hall, his constituents greeted him warmly, but then the tough questions and comments began.

This one, from Helen Claire Sievers of Georgetown, was typical: "I am deeply upset that you are challenging [potential] Speaker Pelosi with no person that you think would do a better job, no policies that you disagree with. We don't want to do what the Republicans did with their Tea Party people and split our party, and I'm deeply concerned that's what you and your buddies are doing."

Moulton took the blows, and said he appreciated the pushback. But he restated his position: that on Election Day, voters asked for change, and that it's time for the Democratic Party to deliver it through new leadership.

"I think the whole team should step aside," Moulton said, "and allow people with the new ideas, the people who understand what climate change is all about; the people who are going to make progress on gun violence; the people who are going to understand the challenges of the automated economy and say, 'I want to take you to the future.' "

On Monday, Moulton, along with U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch of Boston and 14 others elected to the House, signed a letter saying they would vote against Pelosi. They didn't say who they'd vote for, but Moulton has suggested he might back Marcia Fudge of Cleveland, a 66-year-old former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Meanwhile, most of the the Massachusetts congressional delegation supports Pelosi, including U.S. Rep. Richard Neal of Springfield, who says this is a fight that Democrats don't need right now.

"There's plenty of room for disagreement," Neal said, "but I think the fact that it has spilled over the way that it has is not helpful to us moving forward with actually setting an agenda."

On Monday night, Moulton was asked if he'd oppose Pelosi to the point of letting a Republican become speaker. He said with Republicans in the minority, there's no chance of that happening. And while he welcomed the passion of many of his critics, they didn't change his mind.

"They organized to come here ... and express their views, and this happens all the time," he said. "I got called nasty things when I supported the Iran nuclear deal, but ultimately did what I thought was right. And I'm doing what I think is right for the party and the country."

Moulton's critics are so upset they say he could face a primary challenge in 2020. Moulton says bring it on — that's the way democracy works. And he should know: Four years ago he challenged his predecessor, John Tierney, in a primary and won.

This segment aired on November 20, 2018.

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Anthony Brooks Twitter Senior Political Reporter
Anthony Brooks is WBUR's senior political reporter.

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