NEW ULM - Minnesota First Congressional District candidate Sen. Mike Parry (R-Waseca) stopped by New Ulm this Friday to talk about his race against three-term incumbent Democratic Congressman Tim Walz.
He addressed a group of 10 local residents, primarily Brown County Republicans of Minnesota (BCR) members, at the Ulmer Cafe. His visit was part of his two-day campaign kick-off tour that consists of nine stops in the district.
Parry chairs the State Government Innovations and Veterans Committee and runs a Godfather's Pizza franchise.
Staff photo by Josh Moniz
Brown County Republicans of Minnesota (BCR) secretary Connie Neal, New Ulm Mayor Bob Beussman and former BCR president Gerald Woodley listened to Sen. Mike Parry on Friday as he discussed his campaign for the First Minnesota Congressional District. The visit was part of Parry’s campaign kick-off tour.
At the stop, Parry listed his campaign priorities as jobs, the economy and education. He said he intends to address all three problems with reductions in the size of government and elimination of regulation.
He said his small business owner experience gives him insight into the cost of regulation.
"Every time the government drops another rule on small businesses, like myself, it affects us. We want to open another Godfather's Pizza [or business], but we can't," said Parry.
He called his legislative record strong. He said he can both press those he disagrees with and reach across the aisle to accomplish work. He said Walz lacks bipartisanship and accused him of voting in lock step with President Obama.
Following his introduction, BCR members picked Parry's brain about his positions on issues.
Parry said he considers Obama and Walz's policies in Washington a failure. He said he would seek the repeal of the recent health care overhaul and the Frank-Dodd Act.
On veterans, he said a sustainable funding model and more sophisticated care is needed for the younger veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. He said their needs would be different from previous generations of veterans.
"I'm dedicated to the vets," said Parry. "I can get pretty emotional. I get teary-eyed when they play the National Anthem."
On immigration, he said enforcing the current immigration laws to their full extent would be sufficient to solve the problem with illegal immigration.
During the discussion, BCR secretary Connie Neal said major local issues for many New Ulm and Brown county voters are improvement to Highway 14 and support of anti-abortion legislation.
Parry said Highway 14 was a major safety and commercial concern, and he criticized the lack of congressional assistance on the issue by the Minnesota delegates. He said he will seek help with Highway 14 from Congress if he wins.
He also said he co-authored anti-abortion legislation and supported Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). He said MCCL had approached him about becoming involved with his campaign, but didn't specify whether he accepted the support.
Parry also fielded questions about his campaign.
Parry provided minimal information about his campaign finance goals, but he said he would have to raise several million dollars to compete with Walz's fundraising.
"It will be an expensive race,"? said Parry. "What I'd like to be able to do is announce a big war chest by January."
Michael Brodkorb, his volunteer advisor, said they hoped to raise $100,000 by year's end.
Parry said he's relying on his personal and legislative record to attract Democrat and independent voters.
"I think when people look at Mike Parry, they'll see somebody that's conservative but also an entrepreneur. They'll see somebody that will represent them honestly," said Parry.
Parry said he welcomes a race against Allen Quist, who has hinted at a run.
"Republicans like competition," said Parry. "All I know is I have proven myself with winning campaigns. I believe I can deliver the right message."
He dismissed Quist's recent assertion that he should stay in the Legislature to help maintain the Republican majority. However, he said he's working with Republican candidates that he believes can takes his district, even if it's split in redistricting.
Parry, who has a reputation for loudly outspoken beliefs, said his assertive style is what's needed in a divided Washington.
"People think I'm combative because they're not used to somebody standing strong on their belief," said Parry.
Parry said his decision to take pay during the state government shutdown would not affect his campaign. He was one of the few to publicly defend his decision.
"I work my tail off for the citizens of this state," said Parry. "I believe that if you look at my records, you would see I only took 52 percent of the allotted per diem I could have taken."
Parry, who took the full per diem during the regular session, said his figure comes for the out-of-session per diem he could have taken but turned down.
Similarly, he said he thought his work with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) would not be a factor. ALEC is conservative non-profit policy organization that consists of legislators and members of major corporations. The organization has generated controversy over accusation of business professional providing "template bills" for legislators to pass. Parry is a member of ALEC's Minnesota branch.
"What I get from ALEC is information. The more information I have, the more I can make the right decision," said Parry.
Parry said the federal government's role with education is to simply get out of the states' way. He said any federal funding should come without mandates because states and school board know best how to allocate funds.
Parry said he plans to make several future stops in the area during his campaign.
Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.