William Keating of Massachusetts is a progressive in a similar mold to that of other Democratic lawmakers in a state where longtime senator Edward M. Kennedy once reigned. His political career prior to Capitol Hill focused heavily on protecting natural resources and helping child victims of abuse. In the House, he has continued his campaign to protect resources in his New England region as well as the jobs of local fisherman and small businesses.
A member of the Committee on Small Business, he introduced in March 2011 a bill titled “Strengthen Fisheries Management in New England Act” that would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to use penalties collected from New England fisherman on efforts to improve management of the region’s fisheries.
And he joined with several New England colleagues in a letter to Commerce Secretary John Bryson calling for interim measures to set the 2012 Gulf of Maine Cod annual catch limit at “sustainable levels for the fishing industry” and to improve research on cod. “I don’t know how many different ways we need to say it to the Commerce Department, but the 2012 annual catch limit needs to be an amount that will prevent a collapse of the cod fishing industry,” he said. His concern came after a readjustment to the cod annual catch limit in light of a new study showing that a 2008 assessment of the cod stock could have been inaccurate.
Keating was among ten House Democrats who lent support in the campaign against California’s Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage. (The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in early February 2012 declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional, although the court also continued a stay on the ruling until all appeals had been heard.)
During the 2010 election campaign, he was a strong advocate of removing troops as soon as possible from the war in Afghanistan, and Democratic leaders in 2011 gave him seats on the Committees on Foreign Affairs. He also sits on the Committee on Homeland Security, where he focuses on airport and port security. As a former state lawmaker, Keating sought to help children victimized by physical and sexual assault, wrote legislation to protect area lakes, and—with the help of Kennedy’s widow Victoria Reggie Kennedy—promoted the Democrats’ 2010 health care overhaul law that had long been a goal of the late senator. As a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, where he was elected at age 23, Keating worked on a law requiring smoke detectors in houses. Later in the state Senate, he became chairman of the Committee on Judiciary and the Committee on Taxation. While in the state legislature, he also drafted a law aimed at protecting Massachusetts lakes from pollution.
As Norfolk County District Attorney, he had worked to combat bullying in schools and establish services for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. He founded Norfolk Advocates for Children to help children who had suffered sexual or physical abuse.
Keating took the seat of retired Democrat William Delahunt, beating Republican Tea-Party- backed Jeff Perry in 2010 with a campaign supporting the Democratic agenda in Congress, pledging to crack down on Wall Street abuses, and championing abortion rights and gun control. That campaign was heavily supported by Democratic-leaning lawyers and groups, as well as area civil servants and public officials.
For the 2012 election, Keating chose to run for a newly drawn Ninth District rather than take on five-term representative Stephen Lynch, also a Democrat.
Written by Christina L. Lyons, copyright 2012 CQ Press, an Imprint of SAGE Publications, Inc.