MANKATO — It was something of a paradox, or maybe a Parry-dox.
About 16 hours after Republican congressional candidate Mike Parry called Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Democratic President Barack Obama “scary” and told Brown County Republicans that Dayton pops “15 to 16 pills” at a time, Parry implored a large crowd at FarmFest to elect “statesmen” who will set aside partisanship for the good of the country.
And about five minutes after referring the FarmFest audience to the farewell statement of Republican Sen. Dick Lugar, where the six-term incumbent bemoaned the “unrelenting partisan mindset” and “rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party,” Parry said that the goal of Minnesota Democrats is to turn the state “into one of the most socialistic states in the nation.”
It isn’t surprising that the Waseca state senator, who is looking to be the Republican nominee against Democratic Congressman Tim Walz, would make caustic comments about Dayton and Democrats. He’s done that several times during his three-year career as a senator.
More of a shocker was the decision to use his access to a a large crowd and a radio audience stretching across the 1st District to highlight Lugar’s strong condemnation of partisan rancor.
“Take time to read it folks,” Parry said of the farewell letter by the Indiana senator, who was defeated by a more conservative Republican in a May primary election. “Because, paraphrasing, here’s what he said: Our country will fall because we are electing partisan-politic people who have no will or want to work with the other side. That’s what’s going to help destroy this country.”
Parry continued by calling for the election of people more interested in the public good than partisan triumphs.
“We need to learn how to negotiate to get things done,” he said. “And we need to work hard on it. We need to bring back statesmen to our Congress.”
Moments later, with the forum concluded, Parry was surrounded by reporters grilling him about his comments about Dayton’s alleged pill-popping. He declined to back away from the statement, saying he saw the governor take multiple pills at a breakfast meeting where both sides agreed to “take the gloves off” — although he was no longer saying 15 to 16.
“I don’t know exactly how many,” he said. “It was more than a just a few.”
Asked if he was suggesting the governor — a recovering alcoholic — has a drug addiction, Parry said he wasn’t.
“What I was speaking about was the fact that it would be very scary — very scary — if our governor ended up with a House and a Senate and it was controlled by (Democrats).”
Parry was also harshly critical of Dayton during the 2011 budget battle with the Republican Legislature, which resulted in a three-week partial government shutdown.
“The guy should resign,” Parry told The Free Press, “... because he’s shown to me that he doesn’t care about the state of Minnesota.”
Parry said then that Dayton was willing to use state workers as political pawns in budget negotiations because he had no regard for their plight.
“Let me tell you, the governor has no feelings,” Parry said. “If he did, he would not put 22,000 people out of work on July 1. He has no feelings. ... The shutdown doesn’t bother him at all. He gets his trust fund.”
Parry also reportedly walked out of a Capitol meeting room during a Dayton address to legislative Republicans — a speech the Republicans had invited him to give in the interest of better understanding his budget position. And Parry was also criticized for a pair of tweets made before his election to the Senate when he referred to Obama as an “arrogant, power-hungry black man” and asked “what’s with Dems and pedophiles?”
The statements and tweets seemed to be in contrast to the farewell address by Lugar that Parry was praising Tuesday.
“One can be very conservative or very liberal and still have a bipartisan mindset,” Lugar wrote. “Such a mindset acknowledges that the other party is also patriotic and may have some good ideas. It acknowledges that national unity is important, and that aggressive partisanship deepens cynicism, sharpens political vendettas, and depletes the national reserve of good will that is critical to our survival in difficult times.”