Rep. Seth Moulton backs congressman challenging Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader

Moulton isn't the only Massachusetts Democrat supporting Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan's leadership bid.

Boston Globe reporter Joshua Miller (left) interviews Congressman Seth Moulton at Suffolk University in Boston. Aram Boghosian / The Boston Globe

Frustrated with the “status quo” and Democrats’ recent electoral performance, Rep. Seth Moulton is officially backing a fellow Democratic congressman’s bid to unseat Rep. Nancy Pelosi as House minority leader.

In a statement Tuesday, Moulton, a Salem Democrat, endorsed Rep. Tim Ryan, a seven-term Ohio congressman challenging Pelosi, who has led House Democrats since 2003.

Moulton—who is among a small, but growing coalition publicly supporting Ryan—said House Democrats must put themselves in the best position to take back the majority in 2018 to “take on new challenges posed by President-elect Donald Trump.”

“Tim represents a new generation of leaders who are ready to make real change, rather than renew the status quo, and the future of our party demands that kind of leadership now more than ever,” the Massachusetts congressman said.


Moulton had led a successful push by some Democrats to delay the party’s leadership elections until after Congress’s weeklong Thanksgiving recess.

“Last week, our Caucus rightly decided to take time to listen to our colleagues and constituents before rushing into leadership elections with no new plan or new strategy,” Moulton said in his statement Tuesday. “I have been impressed with how seriously our colleagues have taken this responsibility.”

Some, especially younger Democrats, have been frustrated with the party’s messaging, as well as what they see as stagnation at the top of the party’s ranks. As the Associated Press reported last week:

For instance, the top Democrat on the panel responsible for taxes and the Affordable Care Act is 85-year-old Michigan Rep. Sander Levin, while the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee is John Conyers, 87, who’s been in Congress for more than 50 years.

‘‘We’ve got a couple of big issues coming up, not the least of which is defending the very strong parts of the Affordable Care Act,’’ said Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., a rival of Levin’s on the powerful panel.

Some Democrats are pressing for term limits for committee chairmen. Pelosi didn’t dismiss the idea.

“This conversation has been tough, and it must continue, but our Caucus will be stronger because of it,” Moulton said Tuesday.

Rep. Stephen Lynch—a fellow Bay State Democrat and longtime Pelosi skeptic—officially endorsed Ryan on Monday, calling for a change of direction and labeling the recent election an “epic failure.”

Democrats made single-digit gains in the House, falling short of both expectations and of the 30 seats needed to retake the majority.

As The Boston Globe reported last week, the Massachusetts delegation is not entirely opposed to Pelosi’s re-election as minority leader, but the nine Democrats also aren’t in lockstep with each other.


Reps. Katherine Clark, Joe Kennedy III, Jim McGovern, and Niki Tsongas said they support Pelosi. Reps. Neal and Michael Capuano were noncommittal, but called for Democrats to reexamine their overall strategy going forward.

Pelosi has said she has the support of two thirds of the Democratic caucus. But Moulton told Politico earlier this month that the 76-year-old San Francisco Democrat shouldn’t be so confident.

“An awful lot of people are coming to me and saying, ‘I want other options,'” he said.

For his part, Ryan, who calls Pelosi a mentor, says Democrats have relied too much on tailoring their message to specific demographic groups.

“The problem is they talk to people in segments,” he told the Washington Post. “Here’s our LGBT community. Here’s our labor guy. That doesn’t work. You stop becoming a national party. That’s what happened in this election. … You’ve got to have a message that works no matter what day it is, no matter what room you’re talking to.”


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