Ellison wins by large margin in Fifth Congressional District
Incumbent receives nearly three times as many votes as Fields
BY Seth Rowe – SUN NEWSPAPERS
Despite a tense campaign, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison easily won re-election to represent the Fifth Congressional District in Congress.
Ellison faced a challenge by Republican Chris Fields, a retired Marine running in his first campaign. With all votes counted, Ellison had brought in nearly three times as many votes as Fields, though. Ellison, a member of the DFL Party, had received 262,101 votes, unofficially, while Fields had taken in 88,753, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s website. Write-in votes totaled 1,112.
Results fired Ellison up
In a victory speech to supporters Nov. 6, Ellison mainly focused on Democratic victories on the national level.
“Make some noise!” Ellison said. “You know, you guys, we’re having a good night.”
He praised U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar for her victory and added, “All over the country, things are looking good.”
He added, “We should feel good about it because we’re at this place in time because of your hard work. You deserve to party tonight. You deserve to have a good time because you know what? You worked hard and you got us here.”
He thanked his campaign staff as well as the DFL Party.
“We are so proud to be DFLers tonight,” Ellison said.
While wearing a shirt that read, “TAKE ACTION MN,” Ellison spoke about his opposition to constitutional amendments on the Minnesota ballot as well as his optimism regarding President Barack Obama.
“Get out there tonight and never, ever give up on your dreams,” he told supporters. “We’re going to win tonight.”
Ellison did not mention his opponent during his speech.
Fields sees positive result
Despite his loss, Fields said he was pleased with the results.
“I think we were a bright spot in what was a bad day for the GOP in Minnesota,” Fields said.
Voters in the Fifth Congressional District cast more votes for Fields than they did for former Gov. Tim Pawlenty or former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman in past elections, Fields said.
“How can you not be happy with that?” Fields said. “I was a first-time candidate and we preached a positive message, and I think we did very, very well.”
When asked about Ellison comments accusing Fields of making personal attacks during the campaign, Fields said, “I strongly reject his notion that talking about the facts is not positive. Of course it is.”
Asked why he believed Ellison won, Fields said, “The voters in the Fifth Congressional District decided to give him one more chance to clean up his act. Throughout his political career this guy has been at the center of a lot of controversy.”
Nevertheless, Fields said he would support Ellison in his role as U.S. Congressman.
“It’s time to have a come-together moment,” Fields said. I’m a Marine and an American patriot, so my role right now is to support our elected officials and at the same time hold them accountable. That’s what we’ll be doing in the future.”
Fields called the failure of the proposed marriage amendment a referendum on what voters expect Gov. Mark Dayton and legislators to do.
“I think it’s clear in the state of Minnesota, the voters want gay marriage,” Fields said. “OK, if that’s what the voters want, they certainly have their majority and a governor who should be able to give them what they want.”
Regarding the defeat of the proposed voter ID amendment, Fields said opponents of the measure out-worked, out-spent and out-organized supporters. He noted the discrepancy in support in polls and the election results, speculating that some Democrats who had agreed with the concept of voter ID voted against it because they “just don’t like” Republicans.
“People agreed with it, but you wouldn’t think so by the butt-kicking that we took,” Fields said.
The GOP will need to work to restore trust with Minnesota voters, he said.
“We need to take a proactive start, building new bridges,” Fields said. “We need to do more to reach out to natural constituencies and to build bridges. As you look at our campaign slogan, “Come Together,” that’s what I’m going to try to promote in the next couple of months going into the future.”
Regardless of the slogan, the candidates traded sharp jabs throughout the campaign. Following an Oct. 18 debate on KFAI that became intensely personal, a final debate between Ellison and Fields was cancelled.
The KFAI debate became so turbulent that News Director Dale Connelly stepped physically between the candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives. Ellison issued an apology that also criticized Fields.
“In response to my opponent’s false statement, I made an uncivil reference to him,” Ellison’s statement reads. “I should not have done so. I acted beneath my personal standard as a public official, and I apologize.”
Ellison said in the same statement that Fields “has repeatedly and personally attacked me” but added, “His tactics are no excuse for my departure from civility.”
Fields did not issue an apology of his own, rather stating that he could not “apologize for Congressman Ellison’s violent outbursts.”
Although the debate issues received media coverage both in Minnesota and in Washington, Ellison received his highest vote total to date.
After being elected with about 56 percent of the vote in a four-way race in 2006, Ellison followed up by winning with about 71 percent of the vote in a three-way race in 2008 and with about 68 percent of the vote in a four-way race in 2010. The 2012 race was his first head-to-head match-up in a Congressional race.
Ellison has served in Congress since 2007. When elected in 2006, Ellison made headlines for being the first Muslim elected to Congress. Ellison has served as the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, appearing frequently on national television programs to discuss the views of the caucus.