The race in the 9th Congressional District is as important for New Bedford, the Cape and Islands as any other this Nov. 4, including the race for governor, and it’s imperative for the region’s economic future that Democratic U.S. Rep. Bill Keating be re-elected.
Keating’s knowledge of the whole district has been instrumental to his service in Congress. He helped find the flaw with the federal flood insurance program that was unfairly rating the East Coast as if we were on the West Coast. He also sees the value of New Bedford-based wind energy not just to the local economy, but to the energy needs of the whole district and the economy of the whole state.
His knowledge of New Bedford in particular has not been confined to the past 10 days, but was built up over many months of close contact on numerous issues of vital importance to the city: fishing, wind energy, substance abuse and public safety. The claim by his opponent in the race, Republican John Chapman, that Keating has “lost touch with the people he was elected to represent,” that he is “invisible and ineffective,” is just plain phoney.
Anyone who has spent time speaking with Keating on one of his many visits to New Bedford instantly recognizes he is a person of substance, empathy and understanding. His work as the Norfolk County district attorney made that county safer, and gave communities cost-effective and innovative tools for dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues. He proved to be a thoughtful leader then, and he has been attentive and effective as the 9th’s congressman. He has made New Bedford safer by helping to get funding into the city that kept one-third of the Fire Department employed.
Chapman’s many criticisms of Keating are hollow. Accusations that Keating has voted with his party 93 percent of the time are answered both by noting the principled examples of those crossovers, and by Chapman’s inability to offer to do any better.
Keating considers the endorsement Chapman received from the National Federation of Independent Business to be of little value, except as an indicator of Chapman’s true constituency. The group’s lobbying dollars, which come from Karl Rove and the Koch brothers, among others, are spent 100 percent on Republicans, and support issues such as oil drilling off the coast of Massachusetts. Its claims of representing small business owners run counter to the actual voting patterns of small business owners, who vote Democrat about half the time. Better not to have that endorsement, Keating reckons.
We find Chapman to be personable, and his platform on a number of issues is not far off from Keating’s. However, we find Keating’s record includes more than rhetorical statements of how to handle the opioid addiction epidemic or fishing regulations. Keating has proved his commitment and effectiveness.
We would urge voters in the 9th Congressional District to listen on Thursday morning to the third debate between the two candidates, from 9-10 on WCAI-FM, 90.1, 91.1 and 94.3. It should be clear to listeners that William Keating has been an effective, informed and recognized representative of the district whose grasp of the issues goes well beyond that of his opponent.