Sep 13, 2022 - Politics

Exclusive: Auchincloss goes up the middle

Congressman Jake Auchincloss

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss has found success as something you don't see every day in deep-blue Massachusetts politics: A Democrat touting an explicitly centrist message of cooperation with Republicans.

Between the lines: Now, the Newton congressman may be trying to see if that centrism could one day take him statewide.

Driving the news: Auchincloss will tell local leaders in a speech this morning that voters aren't interested in partisan politics.

  • "They want to hear about opportunity, not about grievance," Auchincloss will say, according to prepared remarks shared exclusively with Axios.

What to watch: The New England Council will host Auchincloss today at 8:30am at the Hampshire House.

  • New England Council speeches are often a forum for Massachusetts politicos to set out their agenda or try to appeal to government and business leaders outside their district.

Auchincloss is ready to move on from being a first-term congressman, and to distinguish himself from his more liberal Democratic colleagues like Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

  • After winning a competitive primary to succeed former Rep. Joe Kennedy in 2020, Auchincloss faced no Democratic opponent this cycle and will only have to deal with write-in Republican challenger David Cannata in November.
  • With what's now considered a safe seat, Auchincloss can focus less on reelection and more on moving up the political ladder should a statewide seat open up.

Worth noting: As we reported last week, this year's Democratic primary showed voters are already embracing middle-of-the-road candidates over progressives.

The intrigue: Auchincloss has tough words for activists far to the left and hardline conservatives, calling them "carnival barkers for socialism or strong-man rule."

  • "The hard left," according to Auchincloss, must hear "that we are not going to open our jails or close our schools," and that patriotism is not a liability.
  • "The extreme right," he says, needs to reject the "big lie" that the 2020 election was fraudulent and embrace free elections.
  • He says the right approach isn't to scold the other side, but to reach out to work on what the two sides agree on.

What they're saying: Democratic political consultant Mary Anne Marsh told Axios that Auchincloss has been all over the political spectrum in his short career, first as a Republican in town government, then as a moderate running for Congress, then by touting his progressive bonafides once he got to Washington.

  • "Now it seems he's returning to his more moderate place in the spectrum for a potential race someday down the road," Marsh said.
  • Voters will want to know where Auchincloss really stands on issues and where his values lie, Marsh said.
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