James is one of the few Democrats with a track record of electoral success in conservative-leaning Harford, while Jacobs is a four-term Republican. Her 34th District included part of Cecil County in the 2010 election, but will be limited to Harford in 2014.
Jacobs announced Tuesday that she would not seek re-election to spend more time with her family. Her retirement gives the Democrats a better shot at picking up a seat in the Senate, which they already control by a margin of 35-12.
James, considered a moderate to conservative Democrat, said she had already been considering a challenge to Jacobs but would be more likely to run for the open seat. James said she will do extensive door-knocking this summer and will likely announce her plans in September.
"I'm taking a very serious look at it," she said.
A move to the Senate would be a kind of homecoming for James, who was elected to the House in 1998. Her father, William S. James, served in the Senate from 1955 to 1975 -- the last 12 years as Senate president. The older of the two Senate office buildings is named for him. He died in 1993.
Del. James said it would be especially meaningful to serve in the chamber her father led.
"It would be an amazing, amazing progression for me," she said.