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Top Democrat declines to run for Tsongas seat in Lowell

State Senator Eileen Donoghue said she plans to seek a fourth term in the Massachusetts Senate.
Evan McGlinn for The Boston Globe
State Senator Eileen Donoghue said she plans to seek a fourth term in the Massachusetts Senate.

State Senator Eileen Donoghue, a Lowell Democrat who was considered by political insiders to be the front-runner to replace retiring US Representative Niki Tsongas, said Tuesday she will not seek the congressional seat.

Donoghue, confirming what political insiders predicted, said she plans to seek a fourth term in the Massachusetts Senate, where she recently moved into the leadership circle of Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg.

“I really like the Senate and I think I can best serve my district by remaining in my position there,’’ Donoghue said.

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Donoghue has represented Lowell and its suburbs — all of which are in the Third District — and would have been a major presence in the Democratic field. The greater Lowell area has for the most part dominated the district for the past century.

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Donoghue had run for the Democratic nomination in 2007 to fill that seat, which Martin T. Meehan vacated to become chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Tsongas edged her out and went on to easily defeat a Republican opponent.

Donoghue’s absence from the race opens up some opportunities for other Democrats who are laying the ground work to run. They include: State Senator Barbara A. L’Italien of Andover; State Representative Juana Matias of Lawrence; Dan Koh, Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s former chief of staff who grew up in Andover; businesswoman Lori Trahan of Westford, a Lowell native who served as Meehan’s congressional chief of staff; Steve Kerrigan of Lancaster, who was the party’s 2014 lieutenant governor nominee; and Cambridge City Councilor Nadeem A. Mazen, who is moving into the district.

For the Republicans, businessman Rick Green formalized his campaign last week.

Frank Phillips can be reached at frank.phillips@globe.com.