Pelosi Opponent Moulton Stares Down Potential Primary Challenge

Massachusetts state senator mulls opposing him in 2020

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., has antagonized some progressive groups with his opposition to Nancy Pelosi’s bid for speaker. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton positioned himself as a chief antagonist to Nancy Pelosi when he joined with other Democrats to oppose her bid to reclaim the speaker’s gavel — rankling party leadership and progressive organizations.

But Moulton might soon be facing down a different kind of political rival: a primary opponent.

Massachusetts state Sen. Barbara L’Italien floated the possibility of challenging the congressman in the 6th District in a Monday interview with NBC10 Boston.

“I am politically savvy enough to know that in order to get things for your district, you cannot be challenging the leadership to the extent that Seth Moulton has,” L’Italien said.

Moulton himself came to Congress after successfully challenging his predecessor in a Democratic primary. (He unseated Rep. John F. Tierney in 2014.) He was heavily involved this cycle with recruiting and campaigning for Democratic veterans and comfortably won a third term last month, with 65 percent of the vote. 

But at a recent town hall, some constituents jeered him for the challenge to Pelosi’s speakership bid.

“The lesson that the 2018 midterms should have taught these people is that we want women and we want people of color to lead us and we want the white men to step aside,” activist Bambi Snodgrass told NBC10.

Other progressive groups have floated the idea of playing in primaries against Democrats who oppose Pelosi.

“If right-wing Democrats end up helping Republicans by voting against Nancy Pelosi as speaker, they can expect to face serious backlash from the same energized and mobilized base of progressive voters that just brought Democrats a majority in the House. Which certainly could extend to primaries,” MoveOn.org spokesperson Karthik Ganapathy told Vox in November.

L’Italian has served as a state lawmaker since 2003. She ran for the open 3rd District this cycle to replace retiring Democrat Niki Tsongas, but finished third behind eventual winner Lori Trahan

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