A debate between Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison and his Republican challenger, Chris Fields, escalated out of control this week -- as the incumbent in one of the safest seats in Minnesota called his rival a "lowlife scumbag."
The candidates started throwing punches from the beginning of the live radio debate Thursday, with Ellison repeatedly accusing his opponent of being a liar. "You lie all the time! You have no respect for the truth, anything you say is suspect," he said.
However, the contentious debate got out of hand when Fields accused Ellison of digging up dirt about his personal life. "My ex-wife was crushed by what you did!"
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that it was recently discovered that Fields' ex-wife sought a restraining order against him in 2006. Ellison denied involvement and fired back telling him he was stupid for bringing up the issue.
"You're really stupid," Ellison said. "You're a scumbag. You're a lowlife scumbag," said Ellison. Fields retaliated by bringing up Ellison's divorce and accused him of skimping on child support payments.
"My daughter is in the next room. I'm using a lot of self-control right now, sir," he responded.
The KFAI-FM debate moderator cut to a break in an attempt to refocus the debate. After the break, the moderator tried to cool tempers by switching to a less heated subject matter-climate change.
Ellison, who is favored to win reelection, apologized in a statement, saying, "I made an uncivil reference to him. I should not have done so. I acted beneath my personal standard as a public official, and I apologize."
His opponent did not express regret for his part, saying, "At a time when we need civility and leadership from Washington politicians Congressman Ellison has proved that he cannot deliver and as a result we all suffer."