The Republican candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s 5th District says DFL Congressman Keith Ellison is ducking a debate with him.
Chris Fields held a news conference to say Ellison’s campaign canceled a debate scheduled to be held in north Minneapolis later today. Fields says Ellison made the move after the two engaged in a heated debate last week in which Ellison called Fields a “low-life scumbag.” Ellison later apologized.
“Instead of giving the citizens of the north side and the 5th Congressional District a chance to participate in a substantive debate with a credible opponent, he is ducking the debate,” Fields said. “This reflects the fact that Congressman Ellison cannot answer for his record of neglect and is sorely challenged when trying to control his temper.”
Ellison, who attended an earlier news conference that focused on Medicare, declined to say whether he canceled the debate.
“It was canceled,” Ellison said. “Debates are for illuminating the issues and this one wasn’t going to do that. I can’t speak for anybody but myself but I didn’t think it was helpful to the process.”
Ellison said he prefers to focus on the issues heading into the campaign. Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District includes Minneapolis and some suburbs.
Both Ellison and Fields will take questions separately today from representatives of the Coalition of Black Churches, Insight News and African American Leadership Forum. The event will be held at the offices of Insight News and will be broadcast on KFAI-FM at a later date.
Update: Ellison’s campaign issued this statement:
“After holding more debates than the Presidential race, I have concluded that an additional debate with my Republican opponent is not in the best interest of the 5th District. As I have talked about my record and vision for the future, Mr. Fields has shed little light on his own vision and has pursued personal insults culminating in an attack on my family. I reacted badly, but even after my sincere apology, my opponent has not reset. In fact, he is clearly milking this for political gain. Instead of engaging in another spectacle, I will be out working hard every day, as I have been, for the people.”