GILFILLAN ESTATE - Sen. Mike Parry, a Republican candidate for Minnesota's 1st Congressional District, has doubled down on his Tuesday claims that Gov. Mark Dayton would "pop 15 to 16 pills while you're having a meeting."
Parry made the comments Monday during his speech at the annual fundraiser for the Brown County Republicans of Minnesota. He also called Dayton "scary" and "the most liberal governor in the United States." Parry was speaking about what he considered the importance of maintaining Republican majorities in the Legislature.
[Dayton's term] is scary," said Parry during his speech, "We all know how scary Obama is. He is at the same levels."
Dayton has taken medication for his diagnosis of mild depression, which he publicly disclosed in 2010. According to a study in the Archives of General Psychiatry, an estimated 27 million people, or 10 percent of Americans, took anti-depressants in 2005. Dayton stated that he also occasionally takes antacids.
Dayton responded sharply to Parry on Tuesday, stating that Parry lied about his claim and calling the move "the worst form of gutter politics."
"I think he's using it for his political advantage. He's in a Republican primary. He thinks it's good for his base," said Dayton, "Minnesotans are better than that, or I wouldn't be in this office. Also, I realize he's five days away from an election he's probably going to lose."
Mike Parry reaffirmed his claim that the pill-taking incident happened. ‘I was there. I saw it,’ Parry said Tuesday at Farmfest.
Dayton stated he was unconcerned about Parry's pill claims, but he said that Parry's claims that he tried to cut funds to Minnesota veterans was a serious issue. During the same speech that generated controversy, Parry also claimed that Dayton attempted to take away benefits for veterans.
Dayton denied the charge and accused Parry of being somewhat responsible for the incident. Parry was the chair of the Senate's Veterans Affairs Committee when the bill passed.
Parry's claims that Dayton would "pop 15 to 16 pills" generated significant backlash across the state. Several state legislators, including Rep. Terry Morrow of St. Peter, called for Parry to apologize to Dayton.
When confronted on the issue Tuesday at Farmfest, Parry said he would not apologize and restated that he had observed Dayton taking pills. Parry did not provide a specific date he claims the incident occurred, nor any support evidence outside his own statements. He did backtrack on the number of pills he claimed Dayton took, admitting it could be significantly less.
"I have all the sympathy in the world for people that have issues like that," Parry said.
Parry did not directly answer a question over whether it was appropriate to criticize anybody for taking medication, regardless of the reason or amount. He only responded by reaffirming his claim that the incident did happen.
"I was there. I saw it," said Parry.
The feud between Parry and Dayton has been ongoing since 2011. The situation intensified during the state government shutdown, during which Parry called for Dayton to resign.
The situation takes on an interesting angle due to Parry's race against Allen Quist in the Aug. 14 primary. He has been targeting Quist in recent weeks for previous controversial statements, which Parry claims make Quist unelectable. Parry himself has several past controversial statements, including calling President Obama "an arrogant black man" and tweeting "What's with Dems and Pedophiles?" during the passage of the Matthew Shepard Act.
Parry made a statement at a Farmfest panel earlier on Tuesday, that there was a need for more people who acted like statesmen in Congress.
Dayton was asked whether he considers Parry a statesman, given his recent actions.
"Not that I've noticed," Dayton replied.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)