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Moulton on Pelosi as House speaker: ‘Now it’s time to move forward as one’

Representative Seth Moulton.
Representative Seth Moulton.Jim Davis/Globe Staff/File 2018

In an about-face, US Representative Seth Moulton, the Salem Democrat who recently spearheaded an effort to prevent Nancy Pelosi from becoming House speaker, indicated Wednesday he would vote for the California Democrat to assume that post once again.

Moulton said in a statement released that it was time for the Democratic Party “to move forward as one” as details emerged about a deal that would ensure Pelosi will land the speakership.

Pelosi has agreed to limit how long she would serve in the post to no more than four additional years, saying through a statement that she is “comfortable” with such a plan. The deal all but ensures the California Democrat will be elected House speaker in January.

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Moulton will vote for Pelosi, a spokesman from his office confirmed in an e-mail Wednesday night.

In recent weeks, Moulton has publicly rebuked Pelosi, saying at one point he was “100 percent” sure she could be defeated in her speaker bid. In November, Moulton was among 16 House Democrats to sign a letter indicating they wouldn’t support Pelosi for Speaker.

“Our majority came on the backs of candidates who said that they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington. We promised to change the status quo, and we intend to deliver on that promise,” the letter read. “Therefore, we are committed to voting for new leadership in both our caucus meeting and on the House floor.”

South Boston Democrat Stephen Lynch also signed the letter, only to reverse course last Friday, when he threw his support behind Pelosi, saying he had been assured that the House will try to help working families in the next session.

On Wednesday, it was Moulton’s turn to change his tune.

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“Now it’s time to move forward as one,” he said in a statement. “Nancy Pelosi showed real leadership by agreeing to these reforms. But there’s also a lesson in all of this: tough conversations make us stronger, not weaker, and we need to keep having them if we’re going to deliver on the change that we’ve promised the American people.”

Moulton’s opposition to Pelosi has fueled speculation that he will face a primary challenge in the Sixth Congressional District in 2020.

In Wednesday’s statement, Moulton, 40, acknowledged that the debate over leadership posts during the last month “has been a contentious process.” He said he wants to “make sure the new generation of leaders in our caucus gets a chance to actually lead” and that his goal has been to “have party leadership that reflects the new generation of Democrats in our country and represents the people who voted for change on election day.”

According to Moulton, the deal that Pelosi agreed to will do just that. Under the deal, caucus leaders will “no longer be determined by tenure and loyalty but by frequent and open elections, giving us a better chance to change and evolve as the country does.”

Under the plan, top House Democrats would be limited to four two-year terms in their posts, including terms they have already served while the party had the House majority.

Measures in the deal will also “incentivize those in power to build our bench, something our party has struggled with for years,” Moulton said.

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“That’s progress,” he said.

Pelosi, 78, previously served as speaker from 2007 until January 2011, which is the last time the Democrats controlled the chamber.


Martin Finucane, Matt Stout, and Liz Goodwin of Globe staff contributed. Material from Bloomberg and the Associated Press was used in this report. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.