By Matt Murphy, State House News Service
Posted Oct 18, 2017 at 12:45 PM
Updated Oct 18, 2017 at 11:54 PM
The Democratic primary for an open Congressional seat in the 3rd District got a new entrant on Wednesday when Steve Kerrigan, a former Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama aide, announced his candidacy.
Kerrigan became the seventh Democrat to officially enter the race to replace U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas on Capitol Hill after 2018, and is one of eight, including state Sen. Barbara L’Italien, hoping to succeed the Lowell Democrat after her 10 years in the House.
In 2014, Kerrigan was his party’s nominee for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Martha Coakley that lost to Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. The Lancaster resident explored a run for the same seat in 2007 when Tsongas emerged as the successor to UMass President Marty Meehan, but opted against it.
The 3rd District, which spans most of 37 communities in the Merrimack and Nashoba valleys, from Haverhill in the north to Gardner in the west and Hudson to the south, has attracted a lot of interest since Tsongas’ announcement this summer of her retirement plans.
Kerrigan began a two-day, nine-stop tour of the district Wednesday, with stops at Al’s Family Diner in Methuen, Sunnyside Diner in Lawrence and the Owl Diner in Lowell. He was to finish the day at Spruce Street Tavern in Clinton after greeting spectators outside a Fitchburg City Council candidates’ debate.
Thursday’s schedule will bring him back to Fitchburg, Gardner, Marlboro and West Concord.
“Though some in our district enjoy growing prosperity, too many are finding the opportunity to build a better life increasingly out of their reach. While wages stay stagnant, the basic costs of living, health care and education climb ever higher. All the while, Republicans in Washington spend their time turning their backs on those most in need,” Kerrigan wrote in an email to supporters Wednesday morning.
Active himself in veterans causes, Kerrigan notes Tsongas work for military families in his letter and his respect for the work of teachers, doctors, nurses and small business owners in the district.
Kerrigan spent many years working as an aide to Sen. Edward Kennedy and helped run both of Obama’s inaugurals in 2009 and 2013. He was the CEO of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in 2012.
Coming off the 2014 campaign, Kerrigan looked to use his standing within the party to become the chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party after Sen. Thomas McGee’s decision to step aside after the November election. He finished second in the voting among party insiders to Gus Bickford.
Kerrigan also ran for a State House seat in 2008, losing to Rep. Harold Naughton.
Other Democrats running in the 3rd District include former Boston City Hall chief of staff Dan Koh, one-time Meehan chief of staff Lori Trahan, Lawrence Rep. Juana Matias, Cambridge City Councilor Nadeem Mazen, Troca Hotels CEO Abhijit Das, and Westford School Committee Chairman Terence Ryan.
L’Italien is still exploring a campaign, and has not yet formally entered the race.
While Tsongas has said she’s unlikely to endorse in the primary to succeed her, Trahan appears to have the support of Meehan and his much of his network. Several of her early donations came from former donors and staff to the longtime congressman, and Meehan and ex-wife Ellen Murphy Meehan, who considered running herself, gave maximum donations to Trahan.
While running from Lancaster, one of the smaller towns in the district, Kerrigan is the only candidate in the race who has appeared on a ballot in all 37 communities as a statewide candidate in 2014. None of the candidates so far come from the district’s largest city, Lowell.
According to his campaign, Kerrigan performed better within the district in his winning primary campaign for lieutenant governor than he did statewide. Kerrigan won 47 percent of the district vote in a three-way primary, compared to 40 percent statewide.