BOSTON (AP) — State Sen. Barbara L'Italien has launched a committee to explore a possible campaign for the state's 3rd Congressional District seat.

The Andover Democrat's announcement Wednesday makes her the first woman and only elected official to take the first step toward a run to succeed U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas.

L'Italien says the country is facing some of the biggest challenges it's ever seen and working families in the district deserve someone in Washington who has proven leadership skills.

L'Italien served as a member of the Massachusetts House from 2003-2011. She has served in the Massachusetts Senate since 2015.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh's former chief of staff, Democrat Daniel Koh, has also formed an exploratory committee.

Tsongas, a Lowell Democrat, is retiring after five terms.

The district includes 37 cities and towns.