AMESBURY — Three-term Amesbury City Councilor Jim Kelcourse announced yesterday he will be seeking the Republican nomination in his bid to claim state Rep. Michael Costello’s Democratic-held First Essex District seat on Beacon Hill.
The longtime Amesbury resident and Amesbury High School graduate becomes the first GOP candidate to join an ever-growing race to succeed Costello, the 12-year Statehouse veteran who announced his plans not to seek re-election last week.
Already announcing their candidacies were fellow City Councilor Bob Lavoie and Newburyport City Councilors Ed Cameron and Ari Herzog. Cameron and Lavoie are running as Democrats, setting the stage for a lengthy primary battle between the two councilors. Herzog announced his intentions to run as an Independent, meaning his name will not appear on a ballot until the final election. So far, Kelcourse is the only Republican candidate to announce a run.
The First Essex District is comprised of Democratic stronghold Newburyport and more politically middle of the road Amesbury and Salisbury.
Kelcourse has already scored a coup by securing the support and endorsement of Essex County Sheriff Frank Cousins, a Newburyport resident and arguably the most prominent Republican in the district.
Cousins, who served as the First Essex District state representative more than 20 years ago, said he is often asked to support and endorse candidates; but before doing so, he wanted to make sure that the candidate will do what it takes to win the office.
“I think he’s going to work hard; he gave me that impression,” Cousins said, adding that walking door-to-door and asking for people’s votes was how he won the seat decades ago.
Catching many in the region by surprise, Costello announced recently he would finish his term and not seek re-election. Instead, Costello, an attorney by trade, said he would be diverting his attention to practicing law full-time and join a firm specializing in statewide governmental issues once his term runs out.