SOUTHERN MINNESOTA - Allen Quist announced Monday that he plans to file for Minnesota's 1st Congressional District primary election on Aug. 14, forgoing his prior decision to wait for the continuation of the Republican endorsing convention.
On April 21, Quist competed against Sen. Mike Parry (R-Waseca) in the endorsing convention to be the official Republican challenger to incumbent Democrat Tim Walz. But, the support for each candidate was split so evenly that neither received the required 60 percent of the votes for endorsement. The convention ended after 14 hours and 23 ballots with no winner and no No Endorsement motion. The closing motion sought to continue the process again in a few weeks, but scheduling challenges made June 2 the earliest possible date.
Quist said June 2 was far too late to wait for a convention that may not happen or may end with No Endorsement.
"I don't feel either of us can win if we don't start until after June 2," said Quist.
The June 2 date forced him to be a political realist.
"You have to do what you have to do, regardless of what you want to do," said Quist.
Since the endorsement convention requires the consent of both candidates to continue, a new convention appears unlikely.
Parry responded to the news Monday by announcing he would also run for the primary in response to Quist.
Broken Promises and other accusations
Parry unleashed a harsh accusation against Quist by claiming the former state legislator from St. Peter broke his promise to honor the endorsement convention decision. Quist moving to the primary means he won't be following a decision by the convention, including if another convention is held, Parry said.
Both candidates made public pledges to obey the decision of the endorsing convention. In fact, they were required to sign a document promising to abide by the decision to speak at the Brown County Republican Convention last March.
Quist responded to Parry's claims by sending another public announcement aimed at trying to debunk the claims.
Quist argued that his promise was only good for the first April 21 endorsing convention and only if a candidate were selected. He said that since any continuing convention would have to be a new one, he was not obligated to keep his promise.
He also claimed that he stipulated the selection of a candidate when he signed the Brown County Republican Convention agreement.
Brown County Republicans of Minnesota Chair Jim Hahn said the pledge did not stipulate if a candidate was selected. He said Quist only mentioned it should have been better written regarding a No Endorsement motion.
"We got 'None of the above.' We didn't get a candidate and we didn't get a No Endorsement. It's not what we expected," said Hahn.
Quist went further, accusing Parry of trying to indirectly stop the next convention at the April 21 meeting. He said he voted for all the motions to continue the process, while Parry voted for none.
The anger generated by the promise-breaking debate even prompted both candidates to bring accusations of being unelectable at each other. Quist said Walz would eat Parry alive for his statement that he'd wait to bring troops home until the job market improved. Parry's campaign advisor Ben Golnik said Quist's prior statements that men are genetically predisposed to be the head of households made him unable to win.
The Long Road to Walk
First District Republican Party Chairman Dave Kruse couldn't be reached Monday to confirm that no convention would be held. However, both candidates' actions will drag the battle into the end of summer.
Both campaigns plan to shift focus to broader appeal and strong statements against Walz. They are focusing on the primary to gather supporter from voters.
"A good primary campaign can set you up for the general election. I'm optimistic," said Quist.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)