NEW ULM After months of mudslinging and parade walks, Republican candidates for 1st District Congress Mike Parry and Allen Quist will have one final showdown with today's primary election.
Parry and Quist have been surprisingly well matched after the April endorsement convention failed to name an official challenger to DFL incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Walz.
Parry, who is from Waseca, is a retired cop and radio manager who served in the Minnesota Army National Guard. He is a sate senator. He currently runs a Godfather's Pizza franchise.
Quist is a retired teacher and a St. Peter farmer. He served in the Minnesota Legislature from 1983 to 1989.
Parry and Quist tout themselves as full-blooded conservative Republicans in the tea party tradition. They believe in primarily growing business through tax cuts and regulation reductions.
On marquee issues for modern conservatives, they come from different angles on the issues. Both want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which is sometimes called Obamacare. Quist says he wants it repealed wholesale. Parry would like to see certain elements kept, like allowing children to stay on their parents' plan until age 26.
Parry and Quist's views diverge significantly on some important topics.
Quist argues he will balance the federal budget in five years. He said he will hold no budget sacred, with the military and the Social Security as potential places to make big cuts.
Parry argues that Quist's partisan focus will not succeed, because the problem cannot be solved by one person alone. He would focus on reaching across the aisle to create a permanent solution. Parry would not provide his own timeline for balancing the budget, and he did not identify departments he would cut. He would be interested in zero-based budgeting and judging programs on their "return on investments."
Parry and Quist also differ significantly on the Farm Bill. Quist claims that current version being debated in Congress is really a food stamp bill with a Farm Bill rider. He argues that it's irresponsible to pass it without a spending limit, and that the food stamp program is so broken that people with boats and Rolls-Royces can receive food stamps.
"If the Farm Bill passes, we lose our country," said Quist.
Parry has called for the bill's passage, but he also believes there are problems with the bill. But, he said it is irresponsible to pass over the positive portions to make a political point.
After the primary
Both candidates face their biggest challenge post-primary by trying to attract the independent voters needed to challenge Walz.
Quist has claimed he is the more intellectual and trustworthy candidate. But, he is under fire for first denying, then admitting to past controversial actions. The actions include a self-imposed undercover investigation of an adult bookstore and claiming men are "genetically predisposed" to run households. He claims Walz will not use his past actions against him.
Parry claims he is the candidate who can reach out to "independents and Reagan Democrats." But, he came under criticism on Aug. 6 for claiming Gov. Mark Dayton "pops 15 to 16 pills in a meeting" while touting his ability to antagonize the DFL. His "pills" claim earned him condemnation from Dayton and Republican leadership.
Another challenge for Parry or Quist will be to make up their lagging campaign fundraising totals. Over the last three FEC reports, they have been significantly behind previous Walz challengers while having a combined total roughly four time less than Walz's fundraising,
Parry claims the fundraising difference is inconsequential if he runs a "shoe-leather campaign." Quist said he would dedicate 50 percent of his time to fundraising after the primary.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org)