Two Rogerses, two Tsongases — and now two Meehans? The Lowell-based congressional district could become a family affair. Again.
Ellen Murphy Meehan — the former wife of University of Massachusetts president Martin Meehan, who represented the district for 15 years — said Wednesday she is taking a strong look at running for the Democratic nomination for the seat that Niki Tsongas is leaving after five terms.
“I am seriously considering it and talking to family about running,’’ said Meehan, 53, in a phone interview.
If she were to run and win, her victory would mark the third time in the district’s history that the seat was occupied by a spouse — or in this case, a former spouse — all with Lowell roots.
John Jacob Rogers represented that district from 1913 until his sudden death at age 43 in 1925. His wife, Edith Nourse Rogers, the first woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts, then held the seat until her death in 1960.
Paul Tsongas won the seat in 1974, the first Democrat in decades to occupy it. He went on to win a US Senate seat in 1978, serving one six-year term. He died of complications from cancer treatment in 1997.
In 2007, Niki Tsongas, in her first foray into elective politics, won a special election to fill the seat after Marty Meehan left to become the chancellor of UMass Lowell.
Ellen Murphy Meehan, an Andover native, is a consultant for smaller urban hospitals.
She married Meehan in July 1996, when he was seeking his third term in Congress. The two quietly agreed to an amicable divorce just over a year ago. They have two sons.
Following Tsongas’ surprise announcement, many potential candidates expressed interest in running for the Third District, which stretches along the New Hampshire border from Haverhill to Winchendon and south to Marlborough.
But Meehan would emerge as a top-tier candidate if she decides to run. She is relatively well known in the district and has had a front-row seat to the inside game of politics there, building contacts for the last 20 years both as a congressman’s wife and as cochair of Niki Tsongas’ first campaign in 2007 and again in 2010.
Her former husband said he would be enthusiastic about her candidacy.
“I thinks it would be terrific if she ran,’’ the former congressman said. “I love her dearly, and she is my best friend. And she would be a great member of Congress.”
Frank Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.