RURAL HANSKA - Top regional Republicans packed the line-up for a record-breaking Brown County Republicans of Minnesota's annual fundraiser Monday outside Hanska.
The event, which was held at Rep. Paul Torkelson's home, pulled in 140 guests. The previous record was 110 guests in 2010, during which former Minnesota 1st District candidate Randy Demmer headlined the speakers.
Monday's event generated more than $2,600 for the organization, compared to $1,100 in 2010.
Speakers were Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska), Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls), 1st District candidates Mike Parry and Allen Quist and U.S Senate candidate Kurt Bills.
Torkelson and Dahms put a heavy emphasis on the risk of the Republican Party losing majorities in the Legislature.
"[The Democratic Party] could undo everything we've done in two weeks if they get majorities," said Dahms, "It's a very serious risk."
Staff photo by Josh Moniz
U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Bills talked with local Republican activists on Monday the Brown County Republicans of Minnesota annual fundraiser. The event featured record-breaking turnout and fundraising for the organization.
Parry took the unusual route of focusing on state politics, adding his voice to concerns about the Republican losing legislative majorities. He went the entire speech without mentioning issues related to his congressional campaign. Quist criticized Parry for not focusing the issues related to the 1st District, which he said were essential for voters to know.
After the meeting, Parry said he decided to speak about state level items because he was talking to political activists.
"These people know all the major issues going around the campaigns. What I want to do is pull them down to the local level, with important things they might miss," said Parry.
During his speech, Parry stated that people didn't realize the importance of maintaining Republican majorities. He called Gov. Mark Dayton the most liberal governor in the U.S. He said that if Dayton were provided legislative majorities, he could do significant harm to the state.
As part of his presentation, Parry said he attended a meeting with Dayton and saw the governor taking pills. "To sit across from him, while he's popping 15 to 16 pills while you're having a meeting? That's scary," said Parry, "We all know how scary Obama was. Dayton is at the same level."
Parry said he beat Dayton by standing up to him on several issues, including cutting benefits to veterans and trying to unionize daycares. He said that he also been pushing his position by challenging Secretary of State Mark Ritchie over his opposition to the voter ID amendment. He said he will continue his work by hosting a hearing on Thursday over state union contracts.
Quist focused on his concerns over the size of the federal debt. He said that quick action was needed to avert an economic disaster.
Quist also expressed serious criticisms of the federal Farm Bill that was being debated in the U.S. Congress. He said he fundamentally opposed the bill, calling it a food stamp bill with a farm bill rider. He claimed that the food stamp system was fundamentally broken, leaving states with the incentive to offer food stamps to more and more people.
"You can have people with Rolls-Royces getting food stamps," said Quist, "If we don't fundamentally change how we do food stamps, we could lose our country. The situation is a microcosm of the problems with our deficit," said Quist.
Quist said he did believe his position could be a difficult sell at his Farmfest debate today. However, he said he plans to repeat the same belief at the debate.
Parry said he supports pushing the Farm Bill. He also has serious reservations about food stamp elements of the bill, but he would prefer the bill be debated on the floor to deal with them. He said ignoring the bill all together would also cut out the positive elements, putting farmers in a difficult situation.
Parry also clarified a statement he made the KSTP debate between him and Quist on Sunday. He said that he generally supported investigating U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's claims that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated the U.S. government. He said that current rules demanded that if serious concerns like Bachmann's were brought up, they should be thoroughly investigated to determine the truth.
Parry and Quist are running against each other in the Aug. 14 primary to be the Republican candidate to oppose incumbent Democrat Tim Walz.
Bills emphasized his claims that U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar was too liberal for Minnesota citizens. He argued that he had the correct understanding to address the country's deficit problem.
"I have an opponent with $6 million dollars. My mom thinks that's sick," said Bills, "She doesn't understand why, in these economic times, that you have to buy elections."
He argued that the important issue was to understand the magnitude of the nation's debt. He explained that the best metaphor for understanding the difference is comparing the trillions in debt to a trillion in seconds. He explained that 1 million seconds ago equals 11 1/2 days - 1 billion seconds ago was 1981 and a 1 trillion seconds was 29,668 B.C.
Parry, Quist and Walz will participate in a debate at Farmfest today from 10:30 to 11:50 a.m.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)