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An Unusual Platform Surfaces From Rare Republican Candidate

Chris Fields is accusing Rep. Keith Ellison of not doing enough for urban minorities.

When was the last time you heard a Republican accuse a Democrat of shafting the poor and minorities?

Meet Chris Fields, a former U.S. Marine major seeking the GOP nod to face Rep. Keith Ellison in the 2012 election. Fields points to Ellison co-chairing the Progressive Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives as one of his failings.

“There are 105 members in the caucus, and they've been largely absent when it comes to fixing issues for large blocs of folks who haven't been traditionally served very well,” Fields said.

It’s a marked change from who see Ellison’s Muslim faith—contrasting their own Christianity—as the main reason voters should pick them. , who ran against Ellison in 2008 with a campaign that stressed Ellison's Muslim faith, only managed to drum up 3.74 percent of the vote.

Fields is one of three children born to a young, single mother in New York City’s Bronx neighborhood. These roots, he said, help him empathize with the problems of minorities.

“It defines me as much as being a Marine,” he said.

Fields tells of politicians who came to visit a nonprofit his stepfather helped to build in his neighborhood, and he compares them with Ellison.

“I watched politicians walk in there and say ‘Henry, you're doing a great job,’ get the photo op and leave,” Fields said. “He'd still struggle to get those resources to keep the nonprofit going.

“The Tea Party (Caucus) has 60 members, they are setting the agenda in Washington D.C.,” Fields said. “Those 105 members of the Progressive Caucus aren't controlling the (national) debate. They aren't reaching down to see that the resources they control are getting down to the people in need.”

Some might argue Ellison and other progressives, as members of the minority party, lack the visibility or power to have deeper impacts. Fields rejects this, saying Ellison still has a bully pulpit to affect local issues in the Fifth District. Some observers don’t buy Fields' rationale.

One of them is Ramon Leon, a prominent member of the Twin Cities’ Latino community who’s been long involved with urban economic development initiatives. Leon is CEO of the Latino Development Corporation, but stressed he was speaking only for himself, based on his years of experience.

“Congressman Ellison can advocate and meet with people and tell them that 'These organizations are doing great work in our state, and they should be receiving more support,'” Leon said. “Money may be allocated for a social service program, but it has to be implemented in an effective way. That’s not the final responsibility of congressmen or senators. It is us in the field who need to take responsibility for the way those resources are used.”

While Fields verbalizes support for the poor and minorities, he is also a self-described conservative. He said the government needs to deregulate small businesses to help spur economic development in poor areas. He also dismisses social programs as the answer to poverty or the problems of the inner city. Rather, he advocates handing funding for education and other staples to states and local governments.

“The myth here is that we have to spend more, but I'm not convinced that we do,” he said. “It’s more that we need to look at what we're spending money on, and do we need to spend money on it. Let's have those big brain-picking conversations. We can squeeze out of the federal government a better way to make our dollars more effective.”

Kevin O'Donovan December 01, 2011 at 05:57 PM
Mr.Sanna, Do you really believe that candidates who oppose Ellison are simply basing it on religion? That sounds too similar to the cries of racism being hurled at anyone who opposes Obama and any Progressive candidate of color. Ellison is representing causes and supports issues that are harmful to both the country and the community. Fields can do a better job. Will he? Elect him and see. At least Fields wasn't rejoicing at the assassination of a St. Paul police officer, or considered it to be social justice. Fields protected us from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamists, while Ellison was getting plane fare from them. The choice is not between a Muslim and a Christian, but between a U.S. Marine officer and a radical ,racist, rabble rouser.
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) December 01, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Hey Kevin, I think what James meant was that other candidates are using the fact that Ellison is a Muslim as part of their campaign strategy, not that they oppose him simply because he is Muslim. That's how I read it at least. James?
James Sanna (Editor) December 01, 2011 at 09:20 PM
@Caitlin - You got it. @Kevin - Could you put up a link sourcing what you say is Ellison's "rejoicing in the assassination of a St Paul Police officer?" I confess, I've never heard of that happening before. I'd be interested to see it.
Kevin O'Donovan December 02, 2011 at 01:05 AM
James, Please read pages 293 to 297 in Andrew C. McCarthy's illuminating book "The Grand Jihad" or you can find it in both the Star Trib Files and Pioneer Press, referring to Officer Jerry Haff's assassination. You will also be able to see Ellison's blatant Anti-Semitism, and his support for Louis Farrahkan. Some of this is probably youthful naivete, but has it ended? Caitlin, I would separate his being a Muslim from the facts that he supports radical Islamists. Not all Muslims are Islamists, but all violent Islamists are Muslims.You can find bigotry on both sides and Ellison is a constant example, one that keeps on giving. If you lie down with dogs you get fleas. Thanks for keeping us informed. The PATCH does great work.
Lynne Torgerson for Congress December 02, 2011 at 05:08 AM
Your article Mr. Sanna, is at best, fiction, and at worse, intentionally false and misleading. Chris Fields stated that Saddam Hussein got a bad deal, that all troops should be brought home, that he would cut Pell grants, private Social Security. He is also pro choice, pro gay rights, and stated that re funding for Israel starts at $0.00. Chris Fields has also publicly stated that he applauds Keith Ellison's representation of muslims. Chris Fields is also a Libertarian; he is progressive on many points. Lynne Torgerson the only true conservative in this race supports individual responsibility, free market solutions, balancing the budget, cutting spending, peace through strength, is pro life, 1 man 1 woman marriage, fighting radical Islamism, pro Israel, pro women's rights, greenish on environment and food.
Kevin O'Donovan December 02, 2011 at 05:49 AM
Ms. Torgerson, I thought James article was very infiormative, and fair. It gives me a picture of Chris Fields' personal history,and some of his ideas. The article also showed Fields is not easily categorized, but has some originality in his thoughts and plans. I am sure you,yourself, get more exposure for your ideas in the Patch than most other venues.That's all the candidates and readers can reasonably hope for. We all need to do our homework in order to know the candidates better, and this is a very good start. Good luck with your campaign.
Denise Mazone December 02, 2011 at 11:53 PM
The republicans finally found a Black man to front for them! Chris Fields should be ashamed of himself to think that Keith Ellison is a racist! His interview sounds a bit like self discrimination. Keith Ellison helps all people of race, creed and color. Chris should be talking about his own agenda, not what has been planted in him by his party to say. At the end of the day Chris you are still not most of the republicans equal.
Charlie Dickens December 03, 2011 at 03:32 AM
Denise, I may have missed something but I don't recall reading anything that states Mr. Fields said Keith X is a racist. He does state he is a islamist and he is.
John Schreiner December 06, 2011 at 01:22 PM
Wow...what hogwash. Chris, the son of a teenaged unwed mother, is certainly not pro choice. He is the product of a courageous young woman who raised her three children. Is Chris more of a Libertarian, well perhaps, but is that a bad thing? The focus of all politicians should be on how we create jobs, not focusing on what divides us. That is where Chris is different from any of the other candidates, especially Keith Ellison.
John Anderson December 06, 2011 at 02:44 PM
How are you going to cut spending? Your support for 100% tax credits for solar panels so "rich people can buy them for poor people". Your support for a subway system in the Twin Cities. Face it Lynne, you're a big spending liberal who hates muslims. Go caucus with the racists in the DFL and leave the GOP alone.
Lynne Torgerson for Congress December 12, 2011 at 01:47 PM
Chris Fields stated out of his own mouth that he is a "Libertarian." In fact, he is a Ron Paul Libertarian. Fields IS also pro choice. He states that he "personally," and as an "individual" would not have an abortion, but, would not protect life with legislation, but allow people to choose each for themselves. This is what PRO CHOICE means; that everyone can decide for themselves. Fields is far from conservative. He is pro gay rights; that is the antithesis of conservative. He has also stated from his own mouth that he thinks the military has too much money to spend. Lynne Torgerson also has never attacked Keith Ellison's FAITH. That is a deliberate falsehood. Lynne Torgerson has been protecting 1st Amendment rights for 25 years, and protects all forms of religion. Lynne Torgerson does oppose Keith Ellison's radical Islamist agenda. There is a huge difference between religion and radical Islamism.
James Sanna (Editor) December 12, 2011 at 05:48 PM
Ms. Torgerson, I pulled this quote from your campaign website this morning: "Worse, Keith Ellison is a radical Islamist. Keith Ellison is a radical islamist. Keith Ellison refuses to state that the US Constitution should remain supreme over Islamic Sharia Law."
Amy Paddock December 13, 2011 at 04:03 PM
I am really confused about Chris Fields description about politicians not doing enough to non profits, then in the same breath talks about money and spending. Does he understand what his stepfather was doing, and how someone with community orgs are funded? Community orgs do the work, they are micro functions of a larger community, and yes they do lobby and ask for funding from government. That is not their only funding source either. Not sure what Mr. Fields really knows abt Caucus functioning either. Now, Keith Ellison (whether he is Muslim or not) is part of the minority. You understand and know what it is like to be part of a minority group, then you should understand and respect all minorities, including religious minorities. Carefully inserting that part his religion is a red flag for me. If someone where to actually be able to articulate themselves without using that reference, while still seeming to understand the importance of what is needed in district 5, you may get me to listen more. You have never done that Mr. Fields.
Girish Gandhi March 05, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Denise please read the house bill 569 and he is bad mouthing the chief minister of one of fastest growing states in the world - State of Gujarat in India and he is aginst this Hindu Chief Minister of the State and he is helping all the people of his states by creating jobs. Mr Ellison is a racist bigot.
Girish Gandhi March 05, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Miss Paddock, Please read the House Bill 569 sponsored by Keith Ellison against a foreign chief minister of the State of Gujarat, India. This state s is the fastest growing state in the world and the chief minister is helping all the people regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity and gender. In spite of that Mr. Ellison has introduced a bill 569 against Mr. Modi in the House. Mr Ellison is a racist Muslim and bigot who is against the Hindu Chief Minister who is helping all his people in the State of Gujarat, I would ask the 5th district to support any candidate other than Keith Ellison for Congress for 2012
Bob Quasius March 19, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Chris Fields picked up another endorsement today, from a national pro-immigrant GOP group. http://cafeconlecherepublicans.com/chris-fields-is-right-for-minnesotas-5th-congressional-district
Ed Martinez April 15, 2012 at 10:08 PM
I am a Latino from the Bronx and fully understand what Mr. Fields is saying. Here we have been under Democrat rule for my whole life ( 50 years) as even when we had republican mayors the local politicos were still democrats. They have never done anything but keep us dependent and under their thumb. Recently they even rejected a project that would have brought hundreds of jobs into our community saying that the jobs weren't good enough that it was better to stay on welfare!! That's why we need people like Chris Fields to support the minority community in a smarter fashion!!

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