NEW ULM - Former Minnesota Rep. Allen Quist made a formal announcement of his candidacy for Minnesota's First Congressional District on Friday at the New Ulm Community Center.
The visit was part of Quist's two-day tour of the First District, which involved stops at each of the district's major cities. Quist will be challenging three-term incumbent Tim Walz. But, before he reaches that point, he will square off against Sen. Mike Parry, who is also running for the Republican nomination for the First District.
At the meeting, Quist made his formal announcement before detailing his platform. He said his major concerns are the doubling of the national debt, which exceeds the national gross domestic product, and the recent health care overhaul, particularly the clause he calls the Marriage Penalty. The Marriage Penalty refers to a clause in the health care overhaul, which makes premiums higher for married couples as opposed to unmarried couples. Quist repeatedly boasted he discovered and opposed the problem two years before it became a popular complaint against the bill.
Staff photo by Josh Moniz
Former Minnesota Rep. Allen Quist stood next his wife, Julie, outside the New Ulm Community Center on Friday after officially announcing his plan to run for Minnesota’s First District. Julie has taken on the role of campaign manager for his run.
"The fact is, Washington is broken and Tim Walz is part of the problem. I intend to be part of the solution," said Quist.
Quist said his primary legislative priority will be to balance the national budget within six years. He said he will simultaneously be pushing hard for changes that will make it easier for businesses to expand in order to grow jobs and the economy.
"I believe need both in order to solve the problem," said Quist.
Following his presentation, Quist answered questions about his personal views and his campaign plans.
He said he identifies himself as a Reagan Republican, but he said that view have evolved in the face of the modern problems faced. He said the deficit and the economy have become the primary focus.
He said the current presidential hopeful he's rooting for is Michele Bachmann, who he said he considers a close personal friend from his wife's time running Bachmann's district office. He said his presidential choice may change depending on how the race evolves in the future.
Quist said he intends to embrace the depiction of himself as a hardline Republican. He said he believes it represents what First District voters are looking for in a candidate.
"What [First District] citizens have repeatedly told me is they want strong leadership and strong positions brought to the table. They realize we're in deep trouble," said Quist.
He also said he doesn't believe reaching out to moderates and Democrat voters is as important as it was in previous elections.
"I think there has been a paradigm shift. The old Republican and moderate distinction isn't as relevant anymore. I've listened to residents [of the First District] and that's not how they view the world. They view it in terms of the candidate making a difference and whether the candidate can solve problems," said Quist. "They also want somebody that's willing to buck leadership to accomplish what needs to be accomplished."
He addressed criticism that his unsuccessful gubernatorial campaigns in 1994 and 1998, along with his unsuccessful run for the First District Republican nomination in 2010, has made it harder for voters to believe he could win the primary.
"It is an issue, but it is not a major issue. I believe people recognize that I have a lot of experience," said Quist.
When asked how he will campaign against Parry, Quist said he doesn't consider himself directly competing with Parry.
"My position still is that he needs to stay in the Minnesota Senate," said Quist. "I've got this [race] covered."
He also said he feels he has the best leadership abilities of anyone in the race.
"It's not intended to a criticism of Parry, but I don't feel anyone can match the leadership abilities I bring to the table," said Quist.
Quist said he has no concern that Parry could split the Tea Party vote in the race. He said the Tea Party doesn't official endorse a candidate, but that most of the Minnesota residents active in the Tea Party support his campaign.
Quist said he won't set any fundraising goals and he won't make any significant fundraising drives until after the Republican nomination is selected.
"It's a question of show versus substance for me. I believe fundraising has limited use before the nomination. Turning out a big fund balance before the nomination can be showy, but I'd rather focus my time on providing substance," said Quist.
He also said he aggressively fund raised with several large donors during his 2010 run and that he would get more value out of fundraising with them after the nomination process.
Quist said he has not yet determined when he will visit New Ulm again, He said his immediate plans was to attend the Republican Party of Minnesota State Central Meeting today.
Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.