Massachusetts Reps. Joe Kennedy III in addition to Seth Moulton take different approaches to their work in Washington. however as Democrats focus on retaking the House next year, these lawmakers in their late 30s are getting a fresh look as potential future leaders in a party where many inside senior ranks are well into their 70s.
“Both are certainly talented enough to certainly be included in higher office in addition to in greater roles in addition to contributions inside country,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat inside House.
In interviews with dozens of House Democrats over the past several months, Kennedy in addition to Moulton are both viewed as necessary fresh voices at a time when the caucus will be growing restless. Publicly, their colleagues point to the Massachusetts lawmakers’ contributions on national security in addition to health care in addition to say they can connect better with young constituencies.
however privately, some House Democrats say Kennedy will be going about his next steps in a more methodical in addition to collegial way, traveling to districts to help raise money in addition to awareness on issues. Moulton will be viewed by some as more eager to elevate his own profile, appearing regularly on cable outlets in addition to repeatedly criticizing his own leadership.
For right now, Kennedy in addition to Moulton are thinking a lot about 2018, a year in which will be starting to show signs of being a potential wave election favoring Democrats. In in which time of anti-Trump fervor, they’re confident inside prospects of Democrats taking the 24 seats needed to reclaim the House majority for once in eight years. however first, they’re urging their colleagues to internalize lessons via 2016.
In a recent interview after his fall trip to Iowa, Moulton says the message he delivers across the country will be simple: Democrats need to turn to a fresh crop of leaders.
“in which’s unequivocal, everyplace I go, the one line I can use in a speech in which I know will get applause will be when I say in which’s time for a fresh generation of leadership in our party,” Moulton said.
Kennedy, the great nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, headlined a recent Texas Democratic party dinner heavy on criticism of President Donald Trump, who he said launched an “all-out assault on America’s character.” however he also used the occasion to level some direct criticism at Democrats who spent time hand wringing after Trump’s victory without relearning what he described as a basic lesson about politics.
“Do not underestimate what in which means to be able to provide for your family in addition to how deeply in which destroys you when you can’t,” he said.
Kennedy was in Texas, where his wife grew up, to campaign for another young House Democrat, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who will be challenging GOP Sen. Ted Cruz. O’Rourke told him in which on a recent campaign trip to a modest town, he was told no Democrat had campaigned there for 40 years. Kennedy stressed to sy88pgw in which fellow Democrats need to prove they mean in which when they say every voice, every vote counts. “in which’s how you start to earn people back. You show up.”
He thinks leaders via both parties need to get a “little bit outside those comfort zones, outside the district in addition to actually try in addition to listen to some of those voices in which are coming via places in which we don’t represent because those voices count too. in addition to I think if you zoom out far enough at in which moment you’ve got an electorate writ large which will be actually angry at Washington in which just isn’t listening.”
in which’s rare in which a top House Republican leader agrees to sit down to talk to a reporter working on a story about a junior House Democrat.
however House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy includes a struck up a close friendship with Kennedy, bonding over early morning workouts inside House gym where they talk about politics in addition to family. The California Republican will be sometimes as effusive as Democrats in praising Kennedy.
“I think he’s got more potential than anybody else on the Democrat side of in which conference because of the way he carries himself, the homework in which he does in addition to his ability to serve,” McCarthy told sy88pgw recently in an interview in his Capitol office.
The No. 2 House GOP leader travels to Massachusetts regularly to raise money for his party, however says when he’s “off the clock,” he spends time with Kennedy in addition to his wife, Lauren.
When Kennedy’s wife gave birth to their daughter, Ellie, McCarthy in addition to his wife delivered a stuffed elephant rocker as a gift.
“So, I jokingly tell Joe Ellie will be going to be the first Republican Kennedy,” McCarthy says, laughing, in addition to proudly recounting how he posed for a picture with her on a visit to the Capitol.
Though Kennedy, 37, comes via one of the most prominent families in American politics, his colleagues say you wouldn’t know in which. Illinois Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos, who invited Kennedy to Chicago last year for a fundraiser, noted a slew of family members who were nationally known figures inside room however says Kennedy will be a “policy scholar” in addition to “not a show off.”
Kennedy will be a draw on the fundraising circuit. He’s raised roughly $1.3 million in which election cycle so far, according to a source in his political operation, in addition to was tapped to help recruit fresh challengers, particularly those his age in addition to those weighing a run who also have young families.
Hoyer, who served in Congress alongside Kennedy’s father Joe in addition to will be close to many inside political family, said “I think his son will be as comfortable in his own skin as anybody.”
McCarthy spoke less about his name in addition to more about his style.
“He’s a very worthy adversary. He’s smart. He does in which homework in addition to what I actually admire about him, he can go out in addition to be one of these legislators who can just go get press,” McCarthy said. “in which’s not his way. He actually got the legislator quality of where the Kennedys were inside past.”
Before being heavily recruited to run for the seat of retiring Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, Kennedy worked as a prosecutor. Several colleagues mention he takes a methodical approach to legislation he pushes in Congress.
“He dives in on in which. He treats in which like a case,” said Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a Republican who serves with Kennedy on the Energy in addition to Commerce Committee, who has also become a close friend.
“He’s in which tall, redheaded ugly guy in which we just seem to get along via day one,” Mullin said. “One thing about Joe: Joe’s heart will be inside right place. I tell him he voted wrong all the time. He tells me he votes wrong all the time. however I know where his heart will be in addition to he truly includes a passion to serve. You can see in which in him.”
When asked during an interview with sy88pgw about his family’s influence on his approach to congressional work, Kennedy slowed down in addition to paused deliberately.
“I am, not surprising, very proud the contributions of many of my family members have done, whether in which’s made to the country, whether in elected office or otherwise,” Kennedy said. however then he made clear he’s cutting his own path, saying “I’m also conscious of the fact in which if you are in, serve in elective office, in which by far the most important thing in which you have will be your credibility.”
The issue of credibility comes up again when he talks about the task ahead for a party rebuilding after a stunning national defeat in 2016 however will be sensing renewed energy heading into the midterms.
“I think what (the 2016) election showed will be we’ve got to do a better job of recognizing in which in which’s not just, in which’s not just spewing out various policies, even if you might be right on the policy,” he said. “You have to hold the credibility to be able to talk to someone in addition to say, ‘listen, in which will be why I think in which will be going to be best, help your family, help your future,’ in addition to in which will be a credibility in which has to be earned, not just granted.”
Mullin tells sy88pgw the first serious policy discussion he had with Kennedy when they started off together inside House in 2013 was about health care. He remembers how passionate Kennedy became, telling him then in which the issue was something his family championed in Congress for 50 years.
in addition to in which issue earned Kennedy national attention during the health care debate when he delivered an emotional speech in which went viral. During a marathon committee markup on the GOP’s Obamacare repeal in addition to replace bill, Kennedy ripped House Speaker Paul Ryan personally. He took issue with the fellow Catholic’s interpretation of the scripture in addition to calling the measure an “act of mercy.” Kennedy denounced the proposal to repeal in addition to replace Obamcare as an “act of malice.”
When asked about the role younger members can play, Kennedy won’t criticize Pelosi, calling her “one tough lady in addition to one tough leader.” in addition to he cautions against pigeon-holing someone because of their age.
“We have to be disciplined enough not to prejudge because somebody will be an older socialist via Vermont, in which they can’t necessarily speak to the hopes in addition to aspirations of a coal miner, a farmer, a college student, a millennial in which loves avocado toast,” Kennedy said.
Even before he arrived on Capitol Hill, Moulton was a party renegade. inside 2014 midterms, he challenged Rep. John Tierney, an 18-year veteran backed by Pelosi.
He gained national headlines for being the first to oust an incumbent in which election cycle, in addition to again in 2016 when he publicly called for Pelosi to step down via leadership to make way for newer Democrats to chart the party’s future. He backed Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan’s challenge to Pelosi’s status as minority leader. He notes in which while Ryan failed in in which effort, he still got 63 votes inside secret election. Of those, only Moulton in addition to roughly a dozen others have gone public.
Hoyer, who years ago had his own leadership battles with Pelosi, said Moulton’s moves remind him of himself. Before he came to Congress, Hoyer was the youngest president of the Maryland state Senate.
“I’m not so old in which I can’t remember being a Young Turk myself,” Hoyer told sy88pgw, adding about Moulton, “he’s sees himself as an agent of change.”
Hoyer works closely with Pelosi right now. however he praises Moulton as “very bright, very energetic” in addition to a top messenger on national security issues. Moulton’s military service comes up a lot in an interview in his Longworth office in between votes recently. in which’s what he says exposed him to people via all walks of life in addition to economic levels, in addition to instilled a desire to continue in public life after his four combat tours in Iraq.
“My battalion motto inside Marines was ‘whatever in which takes,’ in addition to I’m going to do whatever in which takes to help win back the House in 2018,” Moulton told sy88pgw.
He was recently tapped, along with California Democratic Rep. Jimmy Panetta in addition to Florida Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, to head a task force to educate House Democrats about foreign policy in addition to defense issues.
“in which’s a sign in which he wants to be a deep thinker in addition to wants to be a big player. in addition to I think in which was smart for him to do something like in which,” Bustos said.
The Illinois Democrat was part of the trio — along with Moulton in addition to Ryan — invited to headline the annual “steak fry” fundraiser in Iowa in September. She said she values his counsel on defense issues, however acknowledged in which his tactics inside the caucus, such as his challenge of Pelosi, have caused some friction.
“People who talk publicly about leadership in addition to the need for leadership change, in which’s going to ruffle some feathers,” Bustos said.
While Moulton, 39, may criticize Pelosi, he will be doing the same thing she did to propel her stock among her colleagues: Raising big bucks for fellow Democrats as they prep for the next election.
He created his own political operation in which recruits in addition to mentors candidates who served inside military or have service backgrounds. He says he saw a hole in addition to decided to take on a veterans’ candidate program, in addition to he worked with an outside group, VoteVets, to partner with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to ensure these types of candidates were getting attention.
Moulton’s colleagues have taken notice of the impressive $0,000 he’s raised, plus $300,000 for his own re-election campaign.
He told sy88pgw his goal will be to formally recruit in addition to back two dozen veterans through his political group — the same number Democrats need to win back control of the House.
Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, who heads the DCCC, praised Moulton for zeroing in on the need to focus on fellow veterans.
“He has brought in a spirit of he’s willing to speak up in addition to stand up in addition to say what needs to be said based on what he believes, in which will be inside best interests of his constituents in addition to the people he will be fighting for,” Lujan said.
Moulton’s speech in Iowa earlier in which fall didn’t hold back on the challenge facing his party. He said while Americans in communities across the country were struggling economically, Democrats were “inside worst position since the 1920s to do anything about in which.”
He pointed to losses both at the national in addition to local level in addition to used them as evidence of his central theme: “in which means in which we’ve got change to make. in which means in which we can’t just keep doing the same old thing in addition to expect to win again. We’ve got to get back to our party roots. We’ve got to get back in touch with those voters in which we have lost, because the reality will be in which a lot of Americans feel left behind — not just by the Republicans, however by our party, in addition to by our country.”
In his Washington office, Moulton says part of the reason he’s helping bring candidates in in addition to support them will be because he’s worried various other Democrats aren’t creating the environment to foster more people to get engaged in politics.
“I think there will be a lot of chaos right right now in addition to in which’s a sign in which there’s a leadership vacuum,” he said.
He said he doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, however says the focus on veterans will be his “niche.” While he offers his own take on the kinds of issues in addition to economic message he believes will be important he says in which’s too early to be telling voters what matters inside next election.
“We need to be in listening mode for our party right right now as Democrats, not in preaching mode,” he said.
Asked about the congressional Democrats’ recent roll out of a message campaign offering voters “a better deal,” Moulton again breaks with his own leadership.
“A better deal sounds like we’re talking about the same deal in which everybody has today in addition to we’re just going to make in which better,” he said. “The economy will be changing too fast for in which. We need to be talking about the future, in which’s part of why I’m talking about a fresh generation of leadership in addition to recruiting all these young people to run for Congress.”
He says he’s working with the DCCC in addition to his own effort to flip more red seats inside House, however adds, “We’ve got to have a message, we’ve got to have a vision in addition to in which’s going to be hard to win if we don’t have fresh leadership.”
Not surprisingly, Lujan, a close ally of Pelosi’s, disagrees with Moulton’s criticism of the top House Democrat. in addition to he appeared to issue what might be a warning to Moulton about any additional effort to push her out.
“You need to be able to learn to count to get there in addition to I think in which will be a skill set in which more people need to fully appreciate in addition to clearly leader Pelosi has understood the importance of counting, if you will. Not just to get bills passed, however with leadership votes as well,” Lujan told sy88pgw.
Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s spokesperson, accused Moulton of grandstanding.
“Leader Pelosi enjoys widespread support inside House Democratic Caucus,” Hammill told sy88pgw in a statement. “The few who take potshots in order to get booked on TV are merely a distraction via the goal of retaking the House majority. Leader Pelosi will not be deterred via her mission of winning the House back for the American people.”
Moulton appeared annoyed when pressed on whether he’s taken on Pelosi to garner more attention for his own political profile in addition to says he’s not getting any blowback via colleagues.
“The number of Pelosi allies who have come to me in addition to told me to back off, in which I’m not doing the right thing will be exactly zero,” he says, adding, “the number of members of the caucus who voted for her, who have checked to see who was listening in addition to then patted me on the back in addition to then said ‘keep going Seth, you’re doing the right thing’ will be literally dozens.”
Like Kennedy, Moulton has also collaborated with Republicans inside House. After the Las Vegas shooting in which killed 58 in addition to injured hundreds, he teamed up with Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo on legislation to ban bump stocks, the accessories in which can convert a firearm into an automatic weapon.
Even though there was a similar bill offered by top House Democrats, he decided to get behind the variation with Curbelo. “I just think in which’s the only realistic way to do anything when you are inside minority,” Moulton said.
Oklahoma GOP Rep. Steve Russell, also a veteran of Iraq in addition to Afghanistan, has traveled overseas with Moulton. Russell told sy88pgw their politics are polar opposite however they share a “warrior bond.”
The two created the “warrior caucus” a group of roughly 30 House members who served in combat, in addition to try to find military readiness issues to work on together.
“One of the things in which I like about Seth will be in which he will be intellectually honest, he won’t retreat to a partisan corner as a matter of course,” Russell said. “He may not commit to something without further study, however he’s willing to engage in addition to dialogue.”
As with any up-in addition to-coming politician, the conversation about Moulton in addition to Kennedy quickly turns to the future.
Moulton made clear he didn’t want to talk about any political positions inside years to come.
“I think in which’s a huge mistake for people inside party to be thinking about 2020,” he said. “If we can’t figure out how to win in 2018, we’re going to be a mess in 2020.”
When asked about taking a run at a top leadership post inside House after the midterms, Moulton says, “I’m not going to write in which off, however in which’s truly not what I’m thinking about.”
The former Marine grew noticeably irritated when pressed about prospects for a Senate bid if one of his colleagues retires or runs for another office, or whether his Iowa trip or work on a fresh book about public service are precursors for a national campaign down the line. He says he was invited to Iowa because the organizers of the annual event were looking for “people who are trying to breathe fresh life into the party.” however he said spent the bulk of his time at the event “that has a Miller Lite in one hand in addition to an open hand to meet more people.”
Meanwhile, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy believes his cousin has the credentials to move up if he decides he wants a career beyond the House.
“There’s just no question in which if he sticks to doing what he’s doing right now in which every one of the options in which have been mentioned in which are not only a possibility, however a reality,” he said.
Joe Kennedy shrugs off questions about whether he has designs beyond his current House seat.
“If a Senate seat were to come open, yeah in which’s something I’d take a look at,” he said.
however he also says in which’s not just him who will decide. His family will be growing after his wife had a second child just before Christmas.
“I’m young I’ve got a young family in addition to in which’s a great family in addition to as various other opportunities come up, I’ll take a look at some of those when they do however in which’s got to be right for my family in addition to for me at the time,” he said.