Yesterday at Farmfest, an annual gathering for all things agricultural in rural Redwood County, Minnesota, talked swirled around comments made the night before at a nearby county party fundraiser by Republican congressional candidate Mike Parry, who is locked in a bitter primary battle with farmer and reitred college professor Allen Quist.
In that battle, Parry has focused his attacks on decades-old comments by Quist, claiming that those old remarks would make his opponents unelectable if pitted against three-term incumbent Tim Walz. But Parry's claims that popular governor Mark Dayton was "scary" and had popped "15-16 pills" in front of Parry during a meeting have drawn fire themselves.
Parry, who has struggled to raise funds and his own profile among voters in Southern Minnesota's sprawling First Congressional District, is taking heat for saying Dayton popped pills.
In a dispatch from Farmfest, veteran Forum Communications political observer Don Davis reports in Minnesota House candidates strive to help farmers:
Parry and Quist are battling for the Republican nomination to take on Walz in the Nov. 6 election. A Tuesday primary will decide the matter.
In an interview, Quist said he is “very optimistic” that he will win, saying, “at this point, Parry is not a major player.”
When asked how he knew that, Quist replied; “We do polling.”
Parry's remarks may serve to raise his name recognition among voters next Tuesday, but judging from what we overheard at the traditionally more conservative crowd that flocks to the ag-a-thon at Farmfest, this is not a promising thing for the Emo Senator.
The Governor's office has focused its response on Parry's comments about veterans' funding in the same stump speech:
Dayton spokesman Bob Hume lashed back at Parry on Tuesday.
"This is the final gasp from a candidate who has nothing to offer the people in the 1st congressional district," Hume said in a statement. "The Governor will not stoop to comment on Parry's vile personal attacks."
Hume said Dayton wants a retraction from Parry for also saying during the same speech that Dayton tried to take away honor guards for veterans.
The feud between Dayton and Parry goes back to 2011, when each blamed the other for cutting a grant program that helped pay for the honor guards at funerals of military veterans.
The dogged New Ulm Journal reporter who captured the fundraiser footage Monday night has edited a video that condenses the controversial cracks, Parry's defense of his remarks to the press at Farmfest yesterday, and Dayton's reply to media questions.
In Parry sticks to his claims and says he will not apologize to Dayton, Moniz notes:
The situation takes on an interesting angle due to Parry's race against Allen Quist in the Aug. 14 primary. He has been targeting Quist in recent weeks for previous controversial statements, which Parry claims make Quist unelectable. Parry himself has several past controversial statements, including calling President Obama "an arrogant black man" and tweeting "What's with Dems and Pedophiles?" during the passage of the Matthew Shepard Act.
Parry made a statement at a Farmfest panel earlier on Tuesday, that there was a need for more people who acted like statesmen in Congress.
Dayton was asked whether he considers Parry a statesman, given his recent actions.
"Not that I've noticed," Dayton replied.
Here's Moniz's video:
KAAL-TV's Dayton Dismisses Parry Remark on Pills included a statement the Parry campaign released on the stump speech:
"I have great sympathy for those who struggle with addiction and depression. Governor Dayton has been upfront about facing these challenges and confirmed today that he takes medication. Last night at a Republican fundraiser, I shared a story from a breakfast meeting I had with Governor Dayton. At that meeting, Governor Dayton took pills. The larger point I made last night was that our state is at a great risk if Democrats take control of the state house and senate -- consequently, Governor Dayton would be able to enact legislation that is out-of-the mainstream with the majority of Minnesotans."
Photos: Mike Parry during yesterday Congressional Forum (above); Governor Mark Dayton during the press gaggle after his keynote speech at Farmfest (below). Photos by Eric V. Adams. Credit: Eric V. Adams for Bluestem Prairie.