Brett Stevens wrote a fascinating post earlier today, speculating that part of the reason we’ve seen Keith Ellison in full meltdown mode lately is that he knows that challenger Chris Fields is drawing blood, and that the DFL sharks in Minneapolis have begun circling.
I think he’s on to something.
It’s worth remembering that Keith was not the first choice of many Democrats when he won the primary in 2006. He only took 40% in a 7-way race. Since then, he’s held on to a seat that’s D+23 against severely underfunded challengers. Not exactly a difficult task.
I also know from my time with the Fields campaign that more than a few prominent Democrats in Minneapolis have privately confessed their frustration with Ellison. One even mentioned that Keith likes to pretend he’s Mr. North Side, but they’d be surprised if Keith could even find the North Side without his driver these days.
As is clear to anyone, Keith is not focused on his District. He’s in love with the spotlight, and he spends his time seeking national attention. Keith’s own campaign treasurer thinks he was elected to be a national “progressive public figure.”
Democrats in Minneapolis are used to effective representation in Washington- having been represented by Martin Sabo for almost three decades. Sabo was a guy who brought home the proverbial bacon, and was known for knocking doors in his district, despite his huge electoral advantage. Not the type of guy you’d accuse of not being able to find the city without a driver.
There’s no question Fields has been getting under Ellison’s skin. After all, confident incumbents don’t tend to scream “That is a lie. You are a liar, sir. That is not true,” at their opponents in debates.
If Ellison makes it through this election without suffering a major breakdown and manages to get re-elected, it will be interesting to see if he gets a primary challenge in 2014.
I hope so, because if it has to be a Democrat that represents the fifth, I’d at least prefer a competent one.