Political Intelligence

Former Romney administration official to challenge Keating for Congressional seat

A former Romney administration official this week launched a campaign to unseat Democratic US Representative William R. Keating, who Republicans view as one of the most vulnerable members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation.

A lawyer, Republican John C. Chapman, served under Romney in several capacities, including as commissioner of the Department of Industrial Accidents, which oversees the workers’ compensation system in the state.

Chapman, a first-time candidate, describes himself as a “fiscal conservative” as well as a supporter of abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

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The lifelong Republican says he wants to shake up a broken Washington.

“I am running for Congress because Washington has grown polarized, become more arrogant and lost touch with the people it represents,” Chapman, 49, said in a statement on his website.

“I will put the hard-working families of the 9th Congressional District at the center of my campaign to reform Washington and bring to pass a government that listens to the people and is responsive to their needs,” he said.

In a short telephone interview Thursday afternoon, Chapman confirmed his bid and said he had filed official paperwork with the Federal Election Commission on Dec. 30. He declined to elaborate on his rationale for running beyond referring to the statement. Chapman said he would make a formal announcement with more details on his platform later this month.

On social issues, he called himself “pro-choice” and “pro-equality, pro-gay marriage.”

Chapman, who is currently focusing full-time on his campaign, lives in Brookline and Chatham with his wife and 14-year-old son, he said.

The 9th Congressional District includes the Cape and Islands, as well as a swath of southern Massachusetts from Norwell to New Bedford to part of Fall River. It is among the least Democratic-leaning of the state’s nine congressional districts. President Obama won the district over Mitt Romney by just 12 percentage points in 2012, compared to a 23-point margin statewide.

Steve Koczela, the president of the non-partisan MassINC Polling Group, said that with the right candidate, Republicans might have a chance to put the district in play.

“The numbers do say that the district could be competitive—Obama won it, but so did Scott Brown in 2012 and Gabriel Gomez in 2013,” he said, referring to the former Republican Senator and the GOP nominee in last year’s US Senate special election.

Democrats in Washington, D.C. do not see the district as fertile ground for any Republican to have a shot at victory. But in blue Massachusetts, it’s one of only two districts many Republicans see as potentially competitive.

There are at least two other Republicans who have filed formal statements of candidacy to run for their party’s nomination in the 9th Congressional District: East Falmouth resident Mark C. Alliegro, a cell biologist at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole; and Vincent Anthony Cogliano Jr. of Pembroke.

Keating has been a Congressman since Jan. 2011. He easily won a second term in Congress in Nov. 2012.

In 2010, he ran for an open seat in what was then the 10th Congressional District, which stretched from Quincy to Provincetown. In a heated race, he beat Republican Jeffrey D. Perry by 4.5 percentage points.

In the 1990s, Chapman said he spent more than seven years working in the enforcement division of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, based in both Washington and New York. He then worked at Tucker Anthony Inc., a financial services firm, before joining the Romney administration.

After Romney left office, Chapman said he was a partner at the law firm Duane Morris LLP for about three years before becoming general counsel for the Joslin Diabetes Center.

In the interview, Chapman said he was putting together a campaign team but currently only has one full-time staffer, focused on finance.

He said he was considering putting some of his own money into the race.

Lauren Amendolara, a spokeswoman for Keating, said in an e-mail the Congressman was focused on the day-t0-day needs of his constituents, including working with other officials to prepare for the impact of the winter storm.

“Obviously,” she said, “there will be a time in the future to also focus on the campaign, but that time is not today.”

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