In the 5th district of Minnesota, voters finally have a choice. Incumbent Democrat Keith Ellison has had little true opposition since he was elected in 2006, but, that has changed now that Chris Fields has announced his candidacy. The former Marine fromNew York City recently decided to run against Ellison, citing the ailing economy and persistent high levels of unemployment amongst African Americans as his primary motivators.
Ellison, a staunch and outspoken liberal Democrat has presided over one the worst eras of economic malaise in Minnesota history. In January 2007, when Congressman Ellison was sworn-in, the unemployment rate was 4.6%, and the African American unemployment rate was 8%. Compare the 2007 numbers to the current rate of general unemployment, a stubborn 8.3%. Under-employment is even worse at 15.4% nationwide. However, the most damning statistic for Ellison—and the President—is the 14.1% unemployment rate in the African American community.
Historically, the 5th district has voted overwhelmingly Democratic. However, the combination of a flailing economic recovery and the entrance of strong challenger has some folks in the political world believing that Chris Fields has what it takes to give Ellison a fight for his job. Due to the security of his seat, Ellison has largely avoided having to defend his incredibly liberal, and unsuccessful, record. Ellison unapologetically voted for President Obama’s Healthcare plan that was just scored by the Congressional Budget Office to—surprise—cost nearly double what the President promised it would. Ellison has also opposed any form of fiscal restraint, aside from gutting the Pentagon’s budget in favor of preserving massive government spending programs in their current form. Chris Field’s campaign ran an excellent ad citing Ellison’s legislative success rate: less than one percent.
Aside from his legislative ineptitude, Ellison also comes with significant personal baggage. His views on race and class are far from mainstream. Ellison has gone so far as to publicly defend Louis Farrakhan, the radical leader of the Nation of Islam, in the Minnesota Daily as a law student. In 2006, he had a run-in with the Minnesota State Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board for unreported contributions, discrepancies in cash balances, and misclassified disbursements. Unbelievably, Ellison also failed to pay some or all of his income taxes five, that’s right, five different times. Frankly, the list of personal failings goes on.
Enter Chris Fields. Fields was raised in the rough neighborhoods of the South Bronx, but still graduated as Valedictorian of his high school. He then worked in the package delivery industry before joining the Marines. As a Marine, Fields honorably served across the globe from Okinawa toKuwait. During the second Iraq War, Fields earned the Iraqi Campaign Medal, along with the Global War on Terror Service Medal. Field decorations being insufficient for Field’s ambition, he then went on to earn his commission as an Officer, and graduated from college Magna Cum Laude. As a veteran with 21 years of service, Fields represents the polar opposite of the divisive and irresponsible Ellison.
Fields has spent his entire adult life serving his country while developing his leadership and teamwork building abilities – attributes that Ellison sorely lacks as liberal firebrand. The humility and integrity required to excel in the United States Marines gives Fields a special perspective on the responsibly associated with public service. Where Ellison uses rhetoric to divide and serve his personal and party’s interests, Fields has consistently decried the partisanship that has forced Washington ,D.C. into gridlock:
“I believe that we are ready to recognize that this is our community and not the ideological playground of politicians. Our votes have been used to divide us rather than to create solutions for all of us. The economic hardships that many of us face are being exploited and not resolved. We have seen too much decline and with strong leadership as well as effective representation we can prosper once again.”
At a time when the world around us is shifting more rapidly every day, partisan gridlock and divisive rhetoric only serves the interest of politicians looking to their next reelection while the American people suffer. As Bob Dylan, a Minnesota native said, “the times, they are a-changin’.” Democratic and Republican voters alike grow weary of the bickering and ineffectiveness inherent in the current political system and are looking for a new class of leaders to break the stalemate in D.C. Incumbents—that includes Mr. Ellison—you have officially been put on notice.