Chris Fields says Keith Ellison isn't doing enough for black people
Chris Fields criticized Keith "Julius Caesar" Ellison
Chris Fields, Congressman Keith Ellison's Republican opponent for re-election, said in an interview yesterday that Ellison isn't doing enough for black constituents.
Fields also claimed Ellison is unpopular with some "prominent Democrats" who have expressed their displeasure to Fields in private but fear Ellison in public. He declined, however, to name a single Democrat who's criticized Ellison.
"Keith is Caesar," Fields explained. "If they try to stab Caeser in the back, if they miss, they're done."
Fields thinks the big issues facing people in Minneapolis aren't being addressed by Ellison, who he criticizes for focusing more on national controversies than his own district.
Congressman Keith Ellison is up for re-election this year
"For Keith to focus on Citizens United or Syria or Palestine or now the Supreme Court, it's just excuse after excuse on why he can't focus on this district and the problems that face this district," Fields said.
To voters in the Fifth Congressional District, Fields said, the important issues are "the failing education system" and "the horrible conditions we have on the ground with regard to our economy."
As proof, Fields claimed that there is "20 percent unemployment amongst black people" and a "30 percent graduation rate amongst black students in Minneapolis," which he says is unacceptable.
"When you represent the congressional leadership for the district in Washington D.C. and you're in a district that is struggling mightily, call me silly but you have to do something about it," Fields said. "You hold that office, you get to pull certain levers that can provide relief here in the district, and no: Keith has been absent. And really, not focused."
Fields said that there is a lack of urgency about unemployment rates for minorities in Minneapolis.
Chris Fields campaigning
"If white people were unemployed at a rate of 20 percent, this whole city would be a different outlook on what needs to be done and who needs to do it," Fields said. "20 percent unemployment has to be unacceptable and I just don't see the passion, I just don't see the focus on fixing it."
Instead of "focusing" on local issues affecting his constituents, Fields says, Ellison has taken his congressional seat and used it to boost his own ambitions.
"I think Keith won his congressional seat six years ago and since then Keith has gone on to believe that he is congressman for life," Fields said. "He has taken a national platform and [turned] our congressional seat into a national platform for Keith to run his mouth about anything Keith wants to run his mouth about."
Fields said he's the right man to represent the Fifth Congressional District because he understands the issues facing its constituents.
"Poverty is poverty, okay? Hard economic times are hard economic times. If you live in one community that's devastated economically, like I did when I grew up in NYC in the south Bronx," Fields said.
During our interview, Fields also took the opportunity to psychoanalyze Congressman Keith Ellison.
"According to Keith, his father is a black Republican. That's on his Twitter account," Fields said. "He said his dad was a black Republican. My dad is a white liberal. How does that happen that the two of us would end up in the positions that we are?"
The answer, Fields said, is that Ellison is indulging in a lifelong rebellion against his father.
"Looking at his career and the things that he's done, his career life and politics are the result of a teenage rebellion gone awry," Fields said.
Of course, Fields acknowledges that he's never met Ellison's father.
"I don't know what the family dynamic is or anything like there but when I see where the politics are, where he says his dad is, 'Wait a minute, is this guy still reliving his teenage rebellion?" Fields asked. "Is this just some natural friction and we are all caught up in the middle of it? I'm a can-we-all-get-along kind of guy, just like my dad. I want a Kumbaya Moment, you know, and I think we can achieve that right now."
We asked Fields if there was something inconsistent about claiming you're for a "Kumbaya moment" and then accusing your opponent of being an overgrown teenager.
"Why is that inconsistent?" Fields asked. "I'm not attacking him. If the standard for attacking anyone is simply stating your position then hey, if I said Keith was black and wears glasses, is that an attack? That doesn't make any sense. No we're not attacking them."
Fields is considered a longshot candidate to defeat Ellison.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.