Although it's been only a day since Congresswoman Niki Tsongas announced she wouldn't seek another term in the U.S. House of Representatives, there's already been plenty of speculation about who will run for the now-open 2018 race.
Political observers in Massachusetts are not surprised to see a lot of interest in the seat Tsongas has held since 2007, when she became the first woman in nearly 25 years to hold a seat in the Massachusetts delegation. And longtime Democratic activist Jesse Mermell is heartened to see that several of those testing the waters are women.
"That district has shown that they support women seeking higher office and it will be really interesting to see what they do this time around," Mermell said.
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Among the Democratic names being thrown around are Daniel Koh, chief of staff for Boston's Mayor Marty Walsh, and Ellen Murphy Meehan, the former wife of University of Massachusetts president Martin Meehan, according to The Boston Globe.
Other names reported to be interested in running for the Bay State's Third Congressional District included state senators Barbara A. L'Italien, Eileen M. Donoghue and James B. Eldridge, as well as state Rep. Jennifer E. Benson.
The Globe reports other Democrats considering running for Tsongas' seat include Michael W. Gallagher, a Lowell lawyer; Stephen J. Kerrigan, the 2014 lieutenant governor candidate; and former state Sen. Barry Finegold.
Among Republicans considering running for Tsongas' seat are, according to the Globe, Rick Green, an auto parts company executive from Pepperell; Gardner Mayor Mark Hawke; and businessman Salvatore Lupoli. State Reps. Jim Lyons and Sheila Harrington could be candidates.
For her part, Tsongas has not endorsed anyone to succeed her. But in a statement released Wednesday, she expressed hope that her district would support female candidates.
"I have often said that women can't win if women don't run," she said. "I'm proud that my election marked the first time in a quarter century that Massachusetts sent a woman to Congress."
"Diversity would be fabulous," said Gail Jackson-Blount, president of the non-partisan Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus, an organization committed to increasing the number of women elected to public office. "Having another woman in that position would be fantastic, because there are so few of us."