There are now three candidates running in the special election to fill the seat being vacated by longtime state Rep. Brian Dempsey.
School Committeeman Shaun Toohey, who previously intended to run for the City Council this fall, is switching gears and mounting a campaign for the 3rd Essex District seat Dempsey held for almost 27 years.
Dempsey, a Democrat, had become a powerful member of the House leadership, rising to the chairmanship of the budget-setting Ways and Means Committee. He has resigned from the legislature to take a position with a private lobbying firm.
A member of the Republican State Committee, Toohey is the first entrant in the GOP primary for the vacant seat, which has been held by a Democrat for more than 50 years.
In a statement, Toohey, who has twice run for the 1st Essex District seat in the state Senate, said he is running to have an impact on the community he cares deeply about.
"We expect results from our state representative, who must advocate for working families by responding to our needs while looking out for the hard-working taxpayers," said Toohey.
The father of two children in city schools, Toohey is the son-in-law of longtime Haverhill political figure William Ryan, who himself served as a state representative in the 1970s, as Haverhill's mayor and on both the School Committee and the City Council.
Toohey, who is vice president of Seaman & Toohey Insurance company and president of KC Carpets Associates Inc., praised Dempsey for his time in the Legislature, adding that he served the city well over the past 27 years and will be missed.
Despite being a Republican running for a seat in the deep blue Legislature, Toohey believes he will be able to deliver for the city thanks to the presence of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on Beacon Hill.
"I believe I am the best candidate with the experience to deliver for Haverhill in a bipartisan manner with our region's delegation," said Toohey. "I will build upon my record of fiscal responsibility and advocating equal opportunity for everyone.”
Toohey joins fellow School Committeeman Paul Magliochetti and City Councilor Andy Vargas in the race, which is likely to draw more candidates in the coming weeks.
Toohey and Magliochetti each ran for the 1st Essex District state Senate seat in 2012, a race which was eventually won by Newburyport Democrat Kathleen O'Connor Ives, who also won a rematch with Toohey in 2014.
Primary elections in the 3rd Essex race will be held on Oct. 10, with the special election on Nov. 7.
Nomination papers are available in the office of City Clerk Linda Koutoulas in City Hall, 4 Summer St. Candidates must get the signatures of 150 registered voters and submit their nomination papers to the city for certification by Aug. 29.
The deadline to file certified nomination papers with the secretary of state's office is Sept. 5.