Seven new members of Congress to watch

With the 2014 midterm elections all but wrapped up, the Monitor looks at which new members of Congress could make waves. Many of the legislature's newest members ran on promises to help break gridlock in the federal government, and their freshmen terms in the Capitol may be defined by how well they can work with a lame-duck Democratic president.

Andrew Wardlow, Panama City, Fla.,/The News Herald/AP
Democratic US House candidate Gwen Graham greets voters outside a voting precinct in Panama City, Fla., on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014.

1. Seth Moulton

Steven Senne/AP
Seth Moulton, a candidate for the US House of Representatives, campaigns with Vice President Joe Biden (l.) Oct. 29 in Lynn, Mass. Mr. Moulton won his race Tuesday.

Seth Moulton, a Democrat and new House Representative for Massachusetts' Sixth Congressional District, said during his campaign that he never grew up wanting to be a politician. Instead, he joined the Marines shortly after graduating from Harvard – and shortly before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. He ended up serving four combat tours in Iraq – a war he's said he, and many in his unit, didn't believe in – and says that service helped spur him to run for office.

"It was over there [in Iraq] that I saw the consequences of failed leadership. Washington didn’t know what they were doing when they got us into Iraq – and didn’t have our backs when we were there," Mr. Moulton said in a recent interview with the Gloucester Times.

Moulton's military service became a focal point of a campaign that saw him unseat nine-term Democratic incumbent John Tierney – the first successful primary challenge to a sitting Massachusetts congressman in two decades – and defeat state Sen. Richard Tisei on Election Day. He received endorsements from high-ranking military officials like Gens. Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus, and made reforming the scandal-plagued Department of Veteran Affairs a focus of his platform. 

This attention to his military experience came with Moulton trying to downplay his own service history. In an era of politicians celebrating and exaggerating their military connections, Moulton was praised for downplaying his. There is "a healthy disrespect among veterans who served on the front lines for people who walk around telling war stories," he told The Boston Globe.

He has stayed so quiet about his military career that he chose not to publicly disclose that he was twice decorated for heroism for his actions in Iraq, including receiving a Bronze Star in 2004 – an award his parents didn't even know he received until last month, according to a campaign spokesman.

Besides campaigning for VA reform and criticizing the Iraq war as well as various aspects of President Obama's foreign policy, Moulton has also campaigned on other issues, including fishing regulation in his district and his business experience. (After leaving the Marines, he got an MBA from Harvard Business School and spent several years working at a startup). Though elected to what is now a firmly-Republican House of Representatives, Moulton's background and his secure position in a deep blue state could make him a bright light from an otherwise dark Election Night for Democrats.

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