The Honorable Nicola S. (Niki) Tsongas
Nicola S. (Niki) Tsongas won election to the U.S. House more than three decades after her husband launched his congressional career. As the first woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress in 25 years, Tsongas came to the Capitol with a unique, built-in knowledge of the institution and used her seat on the Armed Services Committee to help women in the military.
U.S. Representative from Massachusetts (October 16, 2007-January 3, 2019)
Growing up in a military family, Nicola S. (Niki) Tsongas traveled the world and lived abroad as a child. In her interview she describes how the frequent moves encouraged her to adapt and connect with people from different countries and diverse backgrounds. Initially drawn to politics during John F. Kennedy’s presidency, her marriage to Paul Efthemios Tsongas and support of his political aspirations had an impact on her own career path. Tsongas recalls her active work in her husband’s House, Senate, and presidential campaigns. She credits her “independent role” on the campaign trail during this period as valuable experience in engaging with and understanding voters—skills she utilized during her six terms in the House of Representatives. Tsongas recalls her time as a congressional wife, including the observations about her husband’s “Watergate baby” freshman class, as well as the culture and typical lifestyle of Capitol Hill during the 1970s and 1980s.
During her interview, Tsongas describes why she ran for Congress in 2007. With her special election win she became the first woman in 25 years to represent Massachusetts in Congress—an important achievement for Tsongas who spoke of the need for women to seek elected office. Tsongas compares her experience in the House with her husband’s time in Congress, pointing out key differences such as campaigning, fundraising, and life at the Capitol. She also describes her time on the Armed Services Committee and how she worked on issues directly affecting women in the military. Finally, Tsongas shares her reasons for not seeking re-election to Congress.
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