Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat whom advisers say is inching closer to a 2020 run, is beefing up his policy positions ahead of a potential bid, releasing a plan for wholesale electoral reform on Thursday.
Moulton revealed the plan – which includes calls for automatic voter registration, making Election Day a national holiday, restoring voting rights for felons and getting statehood for Washington, DC and Puerto Rico – to CNN after he spent Tuesday and Wednesday in South Carolina and Thursday campaigning during an unannounced stop in North Carolina with Dan McCready, the Democrat running in the special election for North Carolina’s 9th District.
“There’s no more powerful way to understand the value of democracy than to meet people who don’t have it,” Moulton said, referencing his time serving as a Marine in Iraq. “But the truth is, we’ve never fully guaranteed that right here in America.”
He added: “From gerrymandering and the electoral college to voter suppression, especially in communities of color, many Americans don’t believe their votes count. … And in some places, it’s still easier to buy a gun than cast a vote. That’s wrong. It’s undemocratic. And it’s why we need a New Voting Rights Act in America.”
Calling for extensive electoral forms is in vogue within the Democratic Party in 2019, and House Democrats passed a bill earlier this year – HR 1 – that similarly called for sweeping electoral reforms. Candidates like South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have both called for getting rid of the Electoral College, a position Moulton supports, and other Democrats have similarly proposed statehood for Puerto Rico and Washington and making Election Day a holiday.
“I want us to bring this to the floor of Congress. If Republicans want to vote against democracy, fine – but we’re going to make them do it,” Moulton said. “And if Republicans do vote against democracy, then I believe our democracy will vote them out.”
Moulton has made clear that he is considering joining the large and growing field of Democrats running for the presidency in 2020. An adviser to the congressman, who requested anonymity to speak frankly, said the Democrat has moved closer to a bid in recent weeks and will decide on running by the end of April. The Massachusetts Democrat has begun reaching out to potential donors who could back a longshot 2020 bid, the source said.
Moulton has done two things to prepare for a possible run: beefed up his policy credentials and traveled to early states to test the waters of his possible candidacy.
The congressman traveled to South Carolina on Tuesday, where he headlined a veterans roundtable hosted by former Rep. James Smith in Columbia and spoke to the South Carolina Young Democrats. He later met with South Carolina lawmakers and mingled with local Democrats, including Rep. James Clyburn, at a reception hosted by Smith on Wednesday, according to a Democrat who attended the reception.
The congressman then drove to Charlotte, North Carolina, according to a Moulton spokesperson, where he attended an unannounced veterans-in-Congress-focused event on Thursday with McCready, the Democrat running in the North Carolina special election resulting from the state Board of Elections voting unanimously in favor of holding a new election after an investigation into absentee ballot found irregularities. McCready also ran in the 2018 race against Mark Harris, the Republican candidate who is now declining to run again.
Before his trip to South Carolina, Moulton traveled just across the Massachusetts border to New Hampshire where he headlined a pre-St. Patrick’s Day party with the Young Democrats of New Hampshire on March 16.
Still, this week’s swing is just the beginning for Moulton.
On Sunday, the congressman heads back to New Hampshire for an interview with WMUR. On March 29, Moulton will travel to Iowa to host a veterans roundtable with the Veterans Legal Society at the University of Iowa Law School. Moulton will hit his final of the first four states on April 5 and 6 when he travels to Nevada, according to his spokesman.
A Moulton candidacy would center on his age and military experience. The 40-year-old lawmaker has routinely called for a “new generation of leadership” inside the Democratic Party and even unsuccessfully looked to push House Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of leadership over the issue. Moulton, in a knock against him with some Democrats, later voted for Pelosi’s speakership.
Moulton spent much of 2018 building Serve America, his national PAC that looked to elect Democratic candidates with either military or other forms of service in their background. McCready, the candidate Moulton campaigned with on Thursday, was one of those candidates.
“I don’t think you have to be a veteran to be a great leader,” Moulton said in 2018. “But I do think that veterans fundamentally understand what it means to put the country first in front of personal politics.”
As part of his possible run, Moulton also delivered a foreign policy address at The Brookings Institution earlier this year, outlining a foreign policy that he defined as “in with the new and … out with the old.”
“When your old house gets damaged by a bad renter, or – in this case – a terrible President, you don’t just restore it to look like it was built in 1950; you take the opportunity to renovate it,” Moulton said. “You don’t just rebuild – you build something new. Something more relevant. Something better. That’s what’s required of our foreign policy today.”
A Moulton run would be an uphill endeavor, given he would enter a race with over a dozen declared Democratic candidates, including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. Moulton wouldn’t be the only veteran candidate, either, given Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Buttigieg have both served.