Atkins began his political career in the Massachusetts House of Representatives where he served from 1970 to 1971 and later served in the Massachusetts Senate from 1972 to 1984. When James Shannon vacated Massachusetts' 5th District to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate, Atkins ran for the seat in 1984 and was elected to the Ninety-Ninth and the next three succeeding Congresses. Losing renomination in 1992 to Marty Meehan, Atkins left the House in January 1993.
- Brownson, Charles Bruce; Brownson, Anna L. (1991). Congressional staff directory: Advance locator for Capitol Hill. Congressional Staff Directory. pp. 57–. ISBN 978-0-87289-089-3. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 5th congressional district
January 3, 1985 – January 3, 1993