ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Republican congressional candidate Mike Parry took heat Tuesday for portraying Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton as a pill popper, with lawmakers calling for an apology and Dayton’s spokesman describing the comments as “vile personal attacks.”
Parry, a state senator running in the contentious 1st District GOP primary, made the comment Monday at a Brown County Republican fundraiser.
A video of Parry’s speech posted online by a New Ulm Journal reporter shows Parry saying of Dayton: “When you sit across from him and you watch him pop 15 to 16 pills when you’re having a meeting, it’s scary.” Parry emphasized the importance of keeping Republican control of the Legislature.
Dayton spokesman Bob Hume lashed back at Parry on Tuesday.
“This is the final gasp from a candidate who has nothing to offer the people in the 1st congressional district,” Hume said in a statement. “The Governor will not stoop to comment on Parry’s vile personal attacks.”
Dayton is a recovering alcoholic who acknowledges a long-time fight against depression, and speaks openly about his treatment. But Parry said the Governor’s behavior so alarmed him — he asked the governor to step down.
Hume said Dayton wants a retraction from Parry for also saying during the same speech that Dayton tried to take away honor guards for veterans.
The feud between Dayton and Parry goes back to 2011, when each blamed the other for cutting a grant program that helped pay for the honor guards at funerals of military veterans.
In the southern Minnesota primary, Parry has made an issue of intemperate comments made by opponent Allen Quist in the 1980s and 1990s, saying they call Quist’s judgment and electability into question. Quist has brought up reckless Twitter posts Parry made before he ran for state Senate in a special election in 2010.
On Twitter Tuesday, Democratic Reps. Terry Morrow and Ryan Winkler urged Parry to apologize for the pill remark, while Republican Rep. Jim Abeler called Dayton a “gentleman.”
DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin demanding a public apology, calling the remarks “reprehensible.”
“Dayton doesn’t deserve this,” he said. “I can’t explain it. Other than a desperate man in the waning days of his political career trying to call attention to himself.”
Parry spokesman Ben Golnik said Parry stands by his comment.
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