Former ambassador joins crowded congressional race

Rufus Gifford sderved as US ambassador to Denmark during President Obama’s second term.
Globe Photo/File 2011
Rufus Gifford sderved as US ambassador to Denmark during President Obama’s second term.

The field of Democrats vying for the chance to succeed US Representative Niki Tsongas expanded Monday when Rufus Gifford, former ambassador to Denmark and the subject of a Netflix documentary series, entered the race.

A first-time political candidate, Gifford served as finance director for Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and other Democratic causes before being confirmed as ambassador to Denmark in August 2013. He returned from his post when Obama left office.

According to his campaign announcement, Gifford helped Obama “promote initiatives around universal health care, climate change, and equality.” Danish TV, and later Netflix, broadcast a two-season documentary series based on Gifford’s job in Denmark titled “I am the Ambassador.”


“I’m running in part because I feel like people have lost faith and trust in government and politics, trust we desperately need to build back,” Gifford says in a video announcing his candidacy. “During my time as ambassador, it was my desire to get out from behind my desk, humanize our work, tear down the walls, listen, ask questions, and encourage people to engage. . . . It made me realize we need to think about politics and government in a different way.”

Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Gifford said he was “shocked and heartbroken” by the election of President Trump and he is worried that international relationships like the ones he built as ambassador are being eroded.

A native of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Gifford recently moved into the Third Congressional District, in Concord, with his husband, Stephen. He said his family has roots in the district and pledged to travel the district for “a series of community tours and house parties to listen to the concerns of residents.”

Gifford, 43, is the son of longtime Boston banking fixture Chad Gifford.

In addition to Gifford, seven Democrats and three Republicans have declared candidacies for the district seat. The primary will be next September.