U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas, who followed her late husband, Greek-American Paul into politics, representing Greater Lowell, MA in Congress for more than a decade, announced on August 9 that she will not run for reelection in 2018.
Tsongas said in a statement that “ten years ago, I sought this seat because I was motivated by a lifelong commitment to public service and a desire to change people’s lives for the better. I also felt, as I have often said, that women can’t win if women don’t run. I’m proud that my election marked the first time in a quarter century that Massachusetts sent a woman to Congress. Since that door cracked open, the Commonwealth has elected another female member of Congress, our first female U.S. Senator, and in my district, 50 percent of our state legislators are now women, paving the way for even more women from our state to serve in political office bringing their voices to all we value as a country.”
First elected in 2007 in a special election, when then-Rep. Marty Meehan resigned to become the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Tsongas emerged as the Democratic candidate after beating out several other Democrats in the primary. Among those Democrats was now State Sen. Eileen Donoghue. Tsongas later beat Republican Jim Ogonowski in the general election.
The decision not to seek re-election in 2018 came as a shock in Massachusetts state politics, but Tsongas, 71, noted thatit was time for her to step away from politics and spend more time with her children and grandchildren.
Her late husband was a United States Senator from Massachusetts from 1979 to 1985, who had served as a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts’s 5th congressional district (1975–1979), and in local political office. He won seven states as a candidate in the 1992 Democratic presidential primaries, losing the nomination to Bill Clinton. Paul Tsongas died on January 18, 1997, at age 55 of complications from pneumonia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.