L’Italien eyes Tsongas’ seat


State Sen. Barbara L’Italien is starting to raise money toward a potential campaign for U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas’ open seat, becoming the first female candidate to formally explore a run in the closely watched field.

“(Tsongas) would very much like to see a woman succeed her. I think that was made very clear in her announcement,” said L’Italien, a four-term state representative who won her Senate seat in 2014.

L’Italien introduced Tsongas at a legislative networking event in mid-August, a day before Tsongas made her surprise announcement that she wouldn’t seek re-election. Her message at the event, according to L’Italien: “When women run, women win.”

“I just think this district now more than ever needs someone who understands what it means to be a good legislator,” the Andover Democrat said.

L’Italien, however, may be far from the only female candidate. State Sen. Eileen Donoghue, a Lowell Democrat, is also weighing a run, as is Lori Trahan, a Westford Democrat and the former chief of staff to ex-U.S. Rep. Martin Meehan.

Ellen Murphy Meehan also considered launching a campaign before deciding against it earlier this month.

L’Italien said she has had “wonderful conversations” with Tsongas, whom she called a friend, but said she has not asked directly for her support. A spokesman for Tsongas did not return messages yesterday.

“I haven’t pressed her,” L’Italien said of Tsongas. “There will be a time and a place for that. … At the moment, I think she is being fair and providing information to all comers who are interested in the seat.”

The Andover Democrat said her campaign will likely shoot to raise $2 million, and in her early comments, touted the base she’s built from her runs in the House and state Senate, where she represents 3rd District communities Lawrence, Andover and Dracut. She held her House seat for eight years until losing a reelection bid to Andover Republican Jim Lyons in 2010.

Dan Koh, the recently resigned chief of staff to Mayor Martin J. Walsh, has already announced he is exploring a run and is moving back into the district. On the GOP side, Pepperell businessman Rick Green said he has also launched an exploratory committee.

Steve Kerrigan, the 2014 lieutenant governor nominee, said in a social media post yesterday he too intends to “explore this opportunity.”



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