Dems Win Mass. Special Election

Democrat Niki Tsongas defeated Republican Jim Ogonowski Tuesday night to win a vacant seat in Congress from a district north of Boston.

Family ties factored heavily into the campaign. She is the widow of former senator and presidential candidate Paul Tsongas. He is the brother of a pilot who flew American Flight 11 when it crashed into the World Trade Center. In the end, though, Tsongas credited her ideas more than her name for her victory.

"I talked about bringing an end to the war and finally putting in place a timetable for withdrawal and the importance of funding children's health insurance," Tsongas said after thanking supporters at a brewery in her hometown, Lowell, Mass.

She said her husband would have been pleased with her victory especially "because as the father of three daughters it's important to have diversity in the delegation." Tsongas is the first woman this state has sent to Congress in more than two decades.

Democrats have controlled this district, but Republicans said Ogonowski's loss by six percentage points "sent a message."

This race was noted around the country as a possible indicator of voting trends in the presidential primaries and caucuses. Tsongas made opposition to Iraq her central theme. Ogonowski portrayed himself as an outsider upset with the effectiveness of the Democratic Congress.

Tsongas hopes to be sworn in in time to vote Thursday to override President Bush's veto of expanded funding for the State Children's Health Insurance program.

"Let's get to work on creating a health-care system that provides access to affordable, high-quality care for every American starting with our children," Tsongas told supporters. "Less than 48 hours from now I will have the honor of going to Washington and casting my vote to override the president's veto of legislation that would expand health-care coverage to 10 million kids. There is no better way that I can think to start my service in Washington as the first woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts in 25 years."

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