Rep. William Keating hammered home his congressional experience while Bristol County District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter tried to paint him as an ineffective advocate for the region in an often testy debate Thursday at UMass Dartmouth.
Keating and Sutter met in their final debate before the Sept. 6 state primary, as they vy for the Democratic nomination in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District.
Keating and Sutter have met three times in debates across the district, in all three, the exchange was often testy, particuarly when it came to the region's fishing industry, according to SouthCoastToday.
Sutter attacked Keating for not signing on in support of an appeal filed by New Bedford and Gloucester against a 2011 ruling that upheld fisheries management rules, which the cities claim were imposed without proper review.
"You didn't file an amicus brief (in support of the fishermen) and you should have," Sutter said. "You didn't when you were in Washington with me in March at the fisherman's rally call for a reform of Magnuson Stevens (fishery conservation and management act) which you should have."
"Just because you didn't hear it, (doesn't mean) it didn't happen," Keating countered, adding "I met with Mayor (Jon) Mitchell in Washington."
"You were the elected official from New Bedford," he said. "If (the amicus brief) is so important, why didn't you do it?"
The two continued to go back and forth until the moderator, UMD professor Michael Goodman, was forced to step in.
"I think you've both made your point on this topic," Goodman said.
The newly drawn 9th Congressional District includes all of Barnstable County, Dukes County, and Nantucket County; Acustnet, Dartmouth, Fairhave, Fall River, parts of New Bedford, and Westport in Bristol County; and Carver, Duxbury, Halifax, Hanover, Kingston, Marion, Marshfield, Mattapoisett, Middleborough, Norwell, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rochester, Rockland, and Wareham in Plymouth County.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face the winner of the Republican primary between Adam Chaprales of Barnstable and Christopher Sheldon of Plymouth, as well as Independent candidate Daniel Botelho of New Bedford.