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Tsongas wins 5th district seat

By Denebola
Published: October 2007
By Rebecca GoldsteinDemocrat Niki Tsongas defeated Republican Jim Ogonowski, in the Tuesday, October 16 election for the Massachusetts Fifth Congressional District seat by a margin of 51% to 45%.
The two candidates competed for the seat in a special election, which was triggered by former Congressman Marty Meehan’s decision to become the chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Tsongas’ late husband and former Democratic presidential candidate, Paul Tsongas, once held the seat.

Tsongas will be the first woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress in more than 25 years.

Tsongas received most of her votes from the district’s urban areas of Lowell and Lawrence, and easily carried Wayland, Sudbury, Acton, and Concord.

Ogonowski made strong showings in his hometown of Dracut, as well as in Chelmsford, Tewksbury, Billerica, and Methuen.

Tsongas made the issue of education a centerpiece of her campaign. In office, she plans to vote to fully fund the No Child Left Behind Act, work towards universal preschool education, expand the Pell Grant system of federal student aid for higher education, and lower the rates for student loans.

In her victory speech, Tsongas emphasized her plans to set a timetable for American withdrawal from Iraq, to improve care for veterans, to tighten environmental regulations, and to improve the nation’s health care system. Tsongas’ also attempted to make the vote a referendum on the unpopular presidency of George W. Bush and to capitalize on widespread discontent with the Republican Party.

The day after the vote, Tsongas toured the district thanking her supporters, and then flew down to Washington, DC to vote to override President Bush’s veto of the bill to increase funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). The fight over SCHIP funding has been a highly publicized aspect of the conflict between the Democratic-controlled Congress and the Republican presidential administration.

Despite the Republican loss, Tom Cole, the Republican representative for Oklahoma’s Fourth Congressional District and the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, did not see the vote as a true victory for the Democratic Party.
“Democrats have a reason to worry,” he said in an October 16 statement. “In a race that should have been won in a walk, Democrats were forced to funnel a massive amount of resources¦Jim Ogonowski, while unsuccessful in his bid to change Washington, just opened the door for future Republican candidates seeking a path to victory in 2008.”

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