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Niki Tsongas

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Title: Niki Tsongas  
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Subject: United States congressional delegations from Massachusetts, Mike Capuano, United States House of Representatives elections in Massachusetts, 2010, United States House of Representatives elections in Massachusetts, 2012, Margaret Heckler
Collection: 1946 Births, Boston University School of Law Alumni, Democratic Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Female Members of the United States House of Representatives, Living People, Massachusetts Democrats, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts, People from Chico, California, People from Lowell, Massachusetts, Politicians from Lowell, Massachusetts, Smith College Alumni, Spouses of Massachusetts Politicians, Spouses of Members of the United States House of Representatives, Spouses of United States Senators, Women in Massachusetts Politics
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Niki Tsongas

Niki Tsongas
A photograph of a middle-aged woman with short, blonde hair, smiling.  She wears a gray suit, and is posed sitting before an American flag, hanging behind her to the left.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 3rd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Jim McGovern
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 5th district
In office
October 16, 2007 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Marty Meehan
Succeeded by Ed Markey
Personal details
Born Nicola Dickson Sauvage
(1946-04-26) April 26, 1946
Chico, California
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Paul Tsongas
(1969–1997; his death)
Children 3
Residence Lowell, Massachusetts
Alma mater
Religion Episcopalian[1]
Website .gov.housetsongas

Nicola Dickson "Niki" Sauvage Tsongas (; born April 26, 1946) is an American politician and the current U.S. Representative for Massachusetts's 3rd congressional district. From 2007 to 2013 she represented Massachusetts's 5th congressional district, the district her husband Paul Tsongas served prior to being elected to the United States Senate. She is a member of the Democratic Party. Following John Kerry's appointment as Secretary of State, she was widely expected to run in the 2013 special election for the Senate seat once held by her husband; she put such speculations to rest when she announced her endorsement of Representative Ed Markey instead.


  • Family, education, and career 1
  • U.S. House of Representatives 2
    • Elections 2.1
    • Tenure 2.2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Family, education, and career

Tsongas was born Nicola Dickson Sauvage on April 26, 1946, in Chico, California. Her mother Marian Susan (née Wyman) was an artist and copywriter, and her father Colonel Russell Elmer Sauvage was an engineer in the United States Army Air Forces who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor.[2] Tsongas graduated in 1964 from Narimasu American High School in Japan while her father was stationed at Fuchu Air Force Base. Tsongas spent one year at Michigan State University, then transferred to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts in religion.[3][4] After college she moved to New York City, where she took a job as a social worker for the Department of Welfare.[5] Tsongas earned her Juris Doctor from Boston University and started Lowell's first all-female law practice.[6]

Tsongas interned in Arlington, Virginia, for presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy during summer 1967; at a party while there she met Paul Tsongas, then an aide to Republican Congressman Brad Morse. In 1969, she married Paul; they had three daughters: Ashley, Katina, and Molly.[7][8] A politician, Paul served in the House from Massachusetts's 5th congressional district from 1975 to 1979, and the Senate from 1979 to 1985. After being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Paul resigned from Congress. Tsongas moved their family from Washington, D.C., back to Massachusetts to care for Paul as he underwent treatments.[9] After seemingly being cured of his disease, in 1992 Paul ran for the Democratic Party nomination for President; he came in third behind former California Governor Jerry Brown and eventual winner Bill Clinton. Paul's cancer later returned; he died of pneumonia and liver failure on January 18, 1997.

Prior to her election to the House, Tsongas worked as the Dean of External Affairs at Middlesex Community College,[5] as a Board Member of Fallon Community Health Plan[10] and served on the Lowell Civic Stadium and Arena Commission, which oversees several sites including the Tsongas Arena.[5] In 2001, Representative Marty Meehan appointed Tsongas to head a foundation to provide education funding for children of the victims of the September 11 attacks.[11]

U.S. House of Representatives


After Marty Meehan resigned in 2007 to serve as Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Tsongas ran in the special election. Tsongas defeated four other candidates to win the Democratic primary with 36% of the vote.[12] During her initial campaign Tsongas received endorsements from The Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, and the Lowell Sun.[13][14] During the general election, former President Bill Clinton, who defeated her husband for the Democratic nomination in 1992, campaigned for her. At an event in Lowell Clinton remarked: "Congress will be a better place because she is there."[15] Tsongas won the special election against Republican Jim Ogonowski with 51% of the vote on October 17;[16] she became the only female Representative from Massachusetts, and fourth in the state's history.[17]

After running unopposed in 2008, in 2010 Tsongas faced Republican Jon Golnik, a small businessman and former Wall Street currency trader. During the campaign Tsongas attacked Golnik's history as a Vice President of AIG,[18] which Golnik called hypocritical, as she had stock in AIG and other large corporations.[19] Tsongas defeated Golnik with 52% of the vote.[20] Following redistricting after the 2010 census, Tsongas ran for re-election in the reconfigured Massachusetts's 3rd congressional district in 2012. In a rematch, she again defeated Golnick.[21]


Committee assignments
113th Congress (2013–15)[22]

A major issue in her initial election was whether the two candidates would vote to override President veto of an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Tsongas said she would vote to override, and it was reported Ogonowski would uphold the veto.[23] Hours after being sworn into office on October 18, Tsongas voted to override, but the vote failed to achieve the necessary two-thirds majority.[24]

As a candidate in 2007, Tsongas promised to withdraw troops and end the Iraq War.[25] The first bill she introduced aimed to do this by implementing a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq; however, the bill died in committee.[26] In 2010, Tsongas along with other women in Congress, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, visited Afghanistan to oversee the war effort. Upon returning, Tsongas spoke of the need for the involvement of women in rebuilding of government.[27]

Tsongas is an advocate for universal health care and supports a public health insurance option.[28][29] In 2010 she voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act.[30] In 2012 Tsongas joined a Republican-led effort to repeal a 2.3% sales tax on medical-device manufacturers, which passed the House 270–146; 36 other Democrats voted for it.[31] Tsongas is pro-choice and received a 100% approval rating from Planned Parenthood in 2008.[32] A supporter of LGBT rights, Tsongas cosponsored the Respect for Marriage Act to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act;[33] and voted for the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, which allows homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces.

Following Anthony Weiner's sexting scandal, Tsongas was the only Representative from Massachusetts to call for his resignation, saying that "it would be appropriate for [him] to step down."[34] In the 2012 Massachusetts Senate election, Tsongas was the first major Democratic politician to endorse the winner, Elizabeth Warren, whom she called "a fighter for middle class families".[35] Following President Barack Obama's designation of John Kerry as United States Secretary of State, there was much speculation that she would run for his seat, which her husband had previously held.[36] Though Tsongas briefly considered a run, she responded she would best be able to serve the people of Massachusetts by continuing to serve in the House, and instead endorsed fellow Representative Ed Markey.[37][38]

On January 23, 2013, Tsongas introduced the Nashua River Wild and Scenic River Study Act (H.R. 412; 113th Congress), a bill that would amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to designate certain segments concerning the Nashua River in Massachusetts for study for potential addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.[39] Tsongas discussed the river's history and past pollution problems in her testimony about the bill.[40] She argued that the study would allow stakeholders to work together to "ensure that it remains a great place for canoeing, fishing, and enjoying the outdoors."[40]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Elina Troshina (August 24, 2010). "MA Congresswoman Niki Tsongas ('88) Running for Re-election".  
  3. ^ "Women Profiles: Niki Tsongas".  
  4. ^ "The Honorable Niki Tsongas".  
  5. ^ a b c Tsongas 2009.
  6. ^ Ken Cleveland (November 2, 2012). "Tsongas, Golnik compete in rematch".  
  7. ^ Sridhar Pappu (November 24, 2007). "Mrs. Tsongas Comes to Washington".  
  8. ^ Karen De Witt (February 21, 1992). "THE 1992 CAMPAIGN Man in the News: Paul Ethemios Tsongas; A Politician Who Thought He Could".  
  9. ^ Carol Stocker (June 4, 1991). "NIKI TSONGAS STANDS BY HER MAN Paul Tsongas' wife says his cancer's the past, presidency is his future".  
  10. ^ "Niki Tsongas, Board Member of Fallon Community Health Plan, Elected to Congress". Alliance of Community Health Plans. October 24, 2007. Retrieved January 11, 2013. 
  11. ^ Negri, Gloria (August 26, 2002). "Scholarship fund helps 9/11 families".  
  12. ^ Matt Viser and Eric Moskowitz (September 5, 2007). "Tsongas wins primary for 5th".  
  13. ^ "Niki Tsongas Endorsed by Boston Globe and Boston Herald". Niki Tsongas for Congress. Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved October 15, 2007. 
  14. ^ "Sun backs Tsongas". Blue Mass. Group. Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  15. ^ Josh Kurtz (September 20, 2007). "President Clinton Will Stump for Niki Tsongas".  
  16. ^ Eric Moskowitz (October 17, 2007). "Tsongas wins in Fifth District".  
  17. ^ "Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.)".  
  18. ^ Lyle Moran (October 26, 2010). "Tsongas targets Golnik's work".  
  19. ^ Lyle Moran (October 25, 2013). "'"Golnik: Tsongas' former investments make her attacks 'hypocritical.  
  20. ^ Ross Marrinson (November 4, 2010). "Tsongas defeats Golnik, will return to D.C. for second full term".  
  21. ^ Brian Messenger (November 6, 2012). "Tsongas wins over Golnik for Congress".  
  22. ^ "Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass)".  
  23. ^ Edward Mason (October 5, 2007). "5th District race: Ogonowski, Tsongas tangle over Bush veto".  
  24. ^ "After taking oath, Tsongas votes to override veto".  
  25. ^ Finucane, Martin (January 8, 2008). "Tsongas to visit troops in the Middle East".  
  26. ^ McCutcheon & Lyons 2009
  27. ^ Matt Viser (May 11, 2010). "Tsongas returns from Afghanistan trip". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 13, 2013. 
  28. ^ Niki Tsongas (April 25, 2007). "On Universal Health Care". Blue Mass Group. Retrieved March 18, 2013. 
  29. ^ Jesse Floyd (November 5, 2009). "Rep. Tsongas reports to district". Wicked Local - Littleton. Retrieved March 18, 2013. 
  30. ^ Brian Messenger (October 28, 2012). "Rematch: Tsongas vs. Golnik in new 3rd District".  
  31. ^ Chris Camire (June 9, 2012). "Tsongas backs repeal tax on medical devices". Retrieved April 7, 2013. 
  32. ^ Erin Gloria Ryan (January 5, 2013). "101 Facts About 100 Women of the House and Senate".  
  33. ^ "Respect for Marriage Act Co-Sponsors".  
  34. ^ Joanne Rathe (June 16, 2011). "Weinergate: Only Tsongas speaks out".  
  35. ^ "Rep. Niki Tsongas endorses Elizabeth Warren for Senate".  
  36. ^ Ed Henry and Chad Pergram (December 15, 2012). "Obama purportedly to nominate Kerry, sparking speculation about his Senate seat".  
  37. ^ "Tsongas Will Not Run For Senate; Kerry Supports Markey".  
  38. ^ Josh Collins (December 29, 2012). "Tsongas rules out run for Kerry's seat as Markey's support grows".  
  39. ^ "H.R. 412 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  40. ^ a b "Tsongas testifies in favor of bill to designate Nashua River as Wild and Scenic". House Office of Rep. Tsongas. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Marty Meehan
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 5th congressional district

October 16, 2007–January 3, 2013
Succeeded by
Ed Markey
Preceded by
Jim McGovern
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 3rd congressional district

January 3, 2013–present
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Paul Broun
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Bob Latta
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