James Fields made headlines when he won a special legislative election in Cullman County in January 2008, but lost his seat in the disastrous 2010 elections. Fortunately for Alabama, Fields is considering a comeback in 2014 – either as Lt. Governor or returning to his old seat in District 12.
Speaking to the Madison County Democratic Women's scholarship dinner in Huntsville on 5/3, Fields put his political ambitions in context:
“I can't bear the thought of what's happening in Montgomery right now. We fought too hard for progress in the state to throw it out. We have to learn to live with and respect one another.”
That's not just talk. As a profile of Fields in the New York Times Magazine noted, that's the way he's lived his entire life:
During his career at Alabama’s state-employment service, Fields was a tireless advocate for the down-on-their-luck, finding so many white people in Cullman jobs that generations of working families — and their employers — came to know and admire him. He was similarly generous with his evenings and weekends, coaching children’s sports and giving guest sermons at Cullman churches of many denominations.
Fields emphasized that point in his speech last week as well:
“Democrats must stand with the middle class and poor. If we forget them, we lose. They are our cause because of our values – integrity, friendship, & respect for one another.
All I have – my chance at education, success in life – is because of my faith and the opportunities provided by Democrats. Our job is to keep these opportunities open for future generations. Community is about neighbor helping neighbor.
Our task is to refute that lies that they tell about us. Remember that to turn out their base, the other side has to generate fear. We have to remind people: 'They're playing to your fears & using you.'”
He closed his speech with this simple formula for success:
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
Interesting data point on Field's re-election campaign in 2010. Given the GOP's intense interest in campaign finance disclosures in Madison County judicial elections, they were remarkably sanguine about similar lapses on the part of Fields' opponent, Mac Buttram.
When questioned about filing irregularities, Buttram brushed them off with this comment: “This race is not about picky stuff.”