Tsongas wins re-election over Haverhill Republican

PETER FRANCIS /Staff PhotoCongresswoman Niki Tsongas, right rear, chats with supporters at her victory party in Lowell Tuesday night.

LOWELL — Congresswoman Niki Tsongas will return to Washington for another term in a rematch of the 2014 race for the 3rd Congressional District.

With 40 percent of votes counted late Tuesday night, the Lowell Democrat was ahead by a wide margin, defeating Haverhill Republican Ann Wofford.

Tsongas had 67 percent of the vote or 99,527 votes, to Wofford's 33 percent or 48,829 votes.

Tsongas won re-election against Wofford with 60 percent of the vote in 2014.

Tsongas, the wife of late U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas, won re-election in the 3rd District in 2012, defeating Carlisle businessman Jon Golnik, who was appointed last year by Gov. Charlie Baker as the central region director for the state's Office of Business Development.

Tsongas won a special election in 2007 to succeed Congressman Marty Meehan, who resigned to become chancellor of UMass-Lowell. Tsongas represented that 5th Congressional District for two full terms until 2012, when she was redistricted to the 3rd District, following the 2010 census. 

At UMass-Lowell's Inn & Conference Center, Tsongas arrived shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday to watch the national presidential election results come in with a crowd of supporters and receive a congratulatory FaceTime call on her iPhone from her daughter, Molly.

"As I've held this office, we've always tried to make a difference and reach across the aisle," Tsongas said. "To have earned the voters' trust again, it's moving to see."

As the presidential race results ran late Tuesday night, Tsongas said the voter turnout for the election was a testament to the democratic process.

"We've been through an extraordinarily contentious presidential election," Tsongas said. "But we'll certainly continue to work across the aisle."

Tsongas said one thing Republicans and Democrats on Capital Hill agree on is that major improvements are needed for the country's roads and highways.

"We need big infrastructure initiatives across this country, and I hope we can vote on a package that will also create jobs," she said, adding that the priority in January will be continuing to fund the government.

Tsongas said trying to move forward on issues like gun safety laws, comprehensive immigration reform, and fixing some of the shortcomings of Obamacare will be important items on the congressional agenda for the incoming session.

"Voters want us to move ahead and put these things behind us," she said.

Tsongas said watching election results pour in is always a nerve-wracking experience. She said that the the turnout for the 2016 election was "significant, if not historic."

"But whatever the outcome, we have to take voters' concerns seriously, as we always do," she said. "The fact that so many have turned out to vote is indicative of how deeply held voters' views are."

In Haverhill, Wofford cast her ballot shortly after 6 p.m. and then went home to be with her family. She left a voicemail at Tsongas' campaign office congratulating her on the victory.

"When you consider the amount of money we had, it was all volunteer. I think we were outspent 27 to 1, and that's hard to overcome," said Wofford. "I think it's a shame Massachusetts isn't going to have anyone on Team Trump in Washington as they clean house, and that they're settling for the same old, same old."

Wofford said a vote for Tsongas was essentially a vote for Clinton.

"She supports open borders, Dodd-Frank and Obamacare," Wofford said. "That's the choice the 3rd District is making. That's who they're electing, and that's OK. That's why we have elections."

Follow Peter Francis on Twitter @PeterMFrancis and on Tout @PFrancis

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