Politics

A national women’s group is making an endorsement in the 3rd District race

"We believe the House could use a mom on a mission right now."

Barbara L'Italien participates in a debate between the Democratic candidates for the 3rd District congressional seat in Lowell. Keith Bedford / The Boston Globe

The crowded Massachusetts congressional race to replace Rep. Niki Tsongas in the state’s 3rd District includes five female candidates. But just one is getting a nod of approval from the first national women’s group to get involved in the race.

The National Women’s Political Caucus, a grassroots organization devoted to electing more progressive, pro-choice women, is throwing their support behind Sen. Barbara L’Italien, the Democrat’s campaign said Monday. L’Italien is also getting the endorsement of the group’s state affiliate, Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus.

“Barbara L’Italien is the real deal, the sort of change-making woman who will get things done in Congress and carry on this district’s tradition of strong female leadership,” Donna Lent, the president of the NWPC, said in a statement. “We believe the House could use a mom on a mission right now.”

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A longtime Andover resident, L’Italien has represented the area on Beacon Hill for more than 11 years, first as a state representative from 2003 to 2011 before winning her current Senate seat in 2014. She first entered politics after her son, Rudy, was diagnosed with autism to advocate for families of children with the condition. That advocacy culminated in 2010 with the passage of her bill requiring health insurance companies to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism.

In her statement Monday, Lent cited L’Italien’s record on that issue, as well as her steadfast support of a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. Rated as a “champion” on reproductive rights by Planned Parenthood, L’Italien was even once forced out of her church over her pro-choice stance.

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“Her story, a mom who never intended to go into politics becoming an advocate for her son and a fighter for all our kids, is an inspiration,” Lent said. “Her toughness in standing up for what’s right even when it costs her personally is admirable. Her record of success for women and for the most vulnerable in our society speaks for itself.”

L’Italien has also received national union support, including endorsements from two major teachers associations, American Federation of Teachers​ and the National Education Association​, as well as the United Automobile Workers union. She’s one of 10 Democrats set to be on the historically crowded primary ballot in the race to replace the retiring Tsongas.

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