Following State Fair Showdown, Ellison Gets Active at Democratic Convention
The two 5th District candidates also sparred over a James Brown-related Tweet.
Republican challenger Chris Fields and Rep. Keith Ellison (D) faced off at the Minnesota State Fair last week, during their first public debate over who should represent Minnesota's 5th District in the U.S. House.
"It looks like a contest between two men. But it really is a contest between two different ways of viewing the world," Ellison told Patch after Wednesday’s Minnesota Public Radio debate at the State Fair.
Fields pressed Ellison on what he called "failed policies" during a free-ranging debate that covered issues such as tax policy, job creation, healthcare and even favorite economists. He argued that the incumbent wanted to expand government and raise taxes and hadn’t adequately looked out for North Minneapolis, minorities and veterans.
"I wanted to discuss the issues and the contrast with my opponent," Fields said after the debate. "I like this better. I like an open, fair discussion."
Among other issues discussed, Fields called on Ellison to release his tax forms.
"My opponent is not in a position to be someone to talk about campaign finance reform when he’s raised and spent over $1.7 million in this campaign alone—outspent us by over 20 to 1," Chris Fields said. "So when you start to look at it, he looks more like the 1 percent than any of us."
Ellison indicated that he’d have no problem releasing his tax forms—a notion that Fields quickly jumped on.
Stay tuned for details on a Patch-sponsored Ellison-Fields debate, coming this fall.
Fields Slams Ellison for James Brown Tweet
Ellison's official Twitter account put out—then deleted—a controversial Tweet at the end of the Republican National Convention last week, knocking Mitt Romney's choice to use James Brown's "Living in America" to close the convention.
"Nothing like an 80’s coke addicted James Brown to close out the GOP convention," the Tweet read.
In a blog post on Patch, Fields said the Tweet wasn't a bigger deal because people have "become so used to Keith Ellison tossing rhetorical grenades and using toxic language that is unbecoming of an elected official."
"They are also used to Ellison saying one thing and doing another," Fields wrote. "On multiple occasions Congressman Ellison has called for civility in politics. He has failed to live up to his own call."
Ellison later apologized for the Tweet, which he said had been sent without his consent:
"I didn't author tweet re James Brown last nite, but I apologize," he Tweeted. "I'm a JB fan. Also, I would never denigrate anyone in recovery."
Ellison Stumping at Democratic National Convention
Shortly after arriving in Charlotte, NC, for the Democratic National Convention taking place this week, Ellison spoke with a handful of Massachusetts Democrats. He told them that defeating first-term U.S. Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is a top proirity for the party.
"Other than re-electing Barack Obama, reclaiming the seat of Teddy Kennedy is the most quintessential priority of our party," said Ellison (D-Minn.) at a Monday delegate breakfast.
The suburban Minneapolis congressman was encouraging Bay State Democrats to campaign for Elizabeth Warren, who is in a close contest with Brown. Brown claimed the seat in 2010, when Sen. Edward Kennedy died.
Minnesota Public Radio echoed that report, saying Ellison is making the most of his time in Charlotte thus far:
Just three of the six DFL members of Congress are expected to be in Charlotte this week. Rep. Keith Ellison is already in town hobnobbing with delegates and others. He has a full speaking schedule over the course of the week. Ellison, who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says he uses the convention to build relationships.
"I just think as a person who is offering some support and leadership to our party that I can't be missing in action," Ellison said.
Ellison added that his campaign has been working to identify DFL voters to turn out on Election Day. He said going to the convention will help with that grassroots work.