A political neophyte who has three Harvard degrees and served four tours of duty in Iraq says he is considering a run against Representative John F. Tierney, the Salem Democrat who has been battling questions about his brother-in-laws’ offshore gambling ring.
Seth Moulton, 33, who grew up in Marblehead, went to Phillips Academy Andover, and served in the Marines, says he would run as an independent, which would allow him to get on the November ballot, if he can collect 2,000 signatures by July 31.
If he wins, he said, he would caucus with the Democrats. It is too late for a candidate to get on the Democratic or Republican primary ballot in September.
“I believe in the importance of public service, and I believe we need better leadership in Washington,” Moulton said in an interview Tuesday. He declined to discuss what issues he would champion, but described himself as “a fairly centrist guy.”
“Honestly, all I can say right now is I’m looking at it seriously, and I haven’t made a decision yet,” he said.
Richard R. Tisei, the former Republican leader of the state Senate, is already mounting a serious campaign against Tierney.
Moulton’s entrance into the race would inject an unpredictable element into what was shaping up as a fierce two-man fight. Moulton could complicate Tisei’s drive to consolidate the anti-Tierney vote. He could also split the Democratic vote, helping to elect Tisei.
Moulton graduated from Harvard College in 2001 and says he decided to join the Marines in the summer of that year, before the September 11 attacks. He served two tours in Iraq as an infantry platoon commander and two tours as an assistant to General David H. Petraeus, in 2005 and 2007-2008. He then returned to Harvard where he received degrees from the Kennedy School of Government, and Harvard Business School.
He is currently managing director of Texas Central Railway, a company that is trying to bring Japan’s “bullet train” to Texas.
Moulton lives in Dallas, but says he moved there for the job eight months ago and has lived in Massachusetts for 32 of his 33 years. He would be able to establish residency for the election simply by moving back to the state.
Tierney, who has served eight terms in Congress, is considered vulnerable because his wife, Patrice, was sent to jail last year after pleading guilty to tax fraud charges related to the sports betting operation her two brothers ran in Antigua.
The brothers, one of whom was sent to prison two weeks ago and one of whom remains a fugitive from the authorities in Antigua, have said Tierney knew of their illegal activity, charges the congressman has forcefully denied.
Moulton declined to discuss Tierney, or his potential opponent’s family troubles.
He said he has never been involved in politics before, and just begun speaking to friends and colleagues about the idea a few days ago. He said he does not have a timeline for making a decision, but needs to act quickly because signatures are due at the end of the month.
“It’s an opportunity that came completely out of the blue,” he said.