Bill Keating, the former state senator and Norfolk District Attorney who won a highly competitive primary and general election for Congress in 2010, is friendly and low-key in manner; he lacks the damn-the-torpedoes intensity of so many politicians in today’s House of Representatives. Sam Sutter, the talented Bristol County District Attorney who is challenging Keating in the newly redrawn 9th District’s Democratic primary, radiates intensity; he promises a much more aggressive approach to wrestling with the seashore district’s many challenges.
Both are solid, qualified candidates, and voters will probably choose between them on style and approach, more than issues. But Keating’s demeanor masks a quiet diligence that’s been evident since his surprising challenge to iron-fisted Senate President William Bulger back in 1994. And his term in Congress has been spent learning the district from the ground up; he argues persuasively that his fact-finding approach toward issues as varied as the recertification of the Pilgrim nuclear plant, the reconstruction of the Sagamore Bridge, and the controversy over federal fishing limits reflects hands-on engagement, not passivity.