SOUTHERN MINNESOTA - The race between Republican candidates Mike Parry and Allen Quist for Minnesota's 1st Congressional District shifted into a new intensity Tuesday.
Parry and Quist are currently battling it out into the Aug. 14 primary to be the official Republican candidate to challenge Democratic incumbent Rep. Tim Walz.
Parry's campaign sent out an e-mail accusing Quist of failing to admit to several controversial statements he made in the past. Parry statement in the e-mail asks Quist to "man up" and take responsibility for his prior statements.
The e-mail laid out four occasionally overlapping statements that were attributed to Quist. First, the e-mail targeted Quist's 1994 statements to Twin Cities media that husbands have a "genetically predisposition" to be the head of households. When Quist was questioned about it at a July 12, 2012 town hall in Rochester, he responded that people were making things up. Second, the e-mail cited the often repeated claim that Quist has investigated X-rated book stores for sodomy in 1993. Quist called the claim "a total fabrication" during a July 15, 2012 radio interview. Third, the e-mail posted the allegations that Quist compared a Mankato State University counseling center for gays to the Ku Klux Klan. Quist also denied the statement at the July 12 town hall in Rochester. Finally, the e-mail quoted a Star Tribune article from 1994 that Quist spent "hours and hours of speeches on the House floor railing against homosexuality." Quist deflected a question about the claim in the July 15 radio show, claiming he was only opposed to any group at all getting special privileges.
The e-mail is the latest escalation the increasingly sharp verbal barbs Quist and Parry have been firing at each other the last few weeks.
Parry's campaign advisor Ben Golnik accused Quist of being dishonest with Minnesota voters.
"His fringe statements have made him unelectable. His statements are part of why he's been rejected by voters five times since 1988," said Golnik, "Republican voters need a full airing of his statements before the primary. We don't want them to have buyers' remorse."
Golnik said the Parry campaign plans to focus future e-mails on criticizing past statements by Quist, particularly any that he later denied. Golnik said he doesn't feel it is inappropriate to target Quist over these issues. He also stated he didn't believe it would ultimately help Walz, regardless of whether Parry and Quist won the primary.
Quist fired back full-force to Parry's e-mail. He called the statements dishonest and intentionally twisted out of context.
"Parry has gone entirely negative this campaign. None of his attacks have been on the important issues," said Quist, "[His actions] are absolutely disgusting. Mike Parry is an embarrassment to the Republican Party."
Quist called all the quotes in the e-mail out of context, but only specified the "hours debate homosexuality" with details. He claimed the statement was taken out of context and quoted from a DFL leader. He said that it would not even be possible to rail against homosexuality for hours on the floor of the Minnesota Legislature without being ruled out of order.
The 1994 Star Tribune article quotes Mike Triggs, a former campaign manager for Quist's gubernatorial opponent Arnie Carlson, in the sentence above the line. However, the statement itself was delivered by the reporter, with no additional sourcing of the statement. In the next paragraph, Quist is attributed as responding to the statement and several others by saying "that he got caught up in those issues, in part, because he was given grossly inflated estimates by the state about the spread of AIDS."
Quist said he has responded to Parry's accusations over the weeks, but he has kept his campaign focused on issues like the federal debt. He pointed to his new TV ad and its absence of statements against Parry.
"He's helping Tim Walz by putting out cheap, misleading attacks," said Quist, "I suspect he's even hurting himself with these claims at some point."
However, Quist also stated he believes Walz would never use Parry's claims against him, claiming that Walz would recognize how easily they could be disproven.
Quist also attempted to show what he called "objective information" to show he was leading over Parry. He cited that his Facebook page had 730 likes to Parry's 234 likes. He also claimed that he had double Parry's turnout at the parades they marched in. Neither items is typically used by analysts to compare one campaign to another campaign.
Quist will host a town hall meeting Thursday, July 25 at 7 p.m. in Mankato at the Best Western Hotel. Parry and Quist will also participate in a debate on TPT's show Almanac this Friday.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at email@example.com)