NEW ULM, Minn. (AP) -- A Republican primary fight between state Sen. Mike Parry and former state Rep. Allen Quist in southern Minnesota sharpened this week, with the candidates trading insults and charges of distortion.
The New Ulm Journal reported Wednesday that Quist called Parry "an embarrassment to the Republican Party" after Parry's campaign urged Quist to "man up" and take responsibility for controversial statements Quist made about homosexuality and other social issues in the 1990s. Parry adviser Ben Golnik told the newspaper that Quist is "unelectable."
Quist said the comments were taken out of context and accused Parry of running an "entirely negative" campaign that will hurt Republicans' chances in the November election.
The winner of the Aug. 14 primary will challenge Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, who is seeking a fourth term in a typically competitive congressional district that's considered by national observers to be a safe bet for the incumbent this year.
The newspaper reported about an email sent Tuesday by Parry's campaign that highlighted statements Quist disputes, including a 1994 comment about husbands having a "genetic predisposition" to head households and a claim that Quist investigated X-rated bookstores in 1993. Quist has called the bookstore investigation claim "a total fabrication" and said his accusers are making things up.
Quist served in the Minnesota House for six years in the 1980s, before being defeated in 1988 and 1990. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor twice and Congress once before.
"His fringe statements have made him unelectable,'' Golnik told the paper. "His statements are part of why he's been rejected by voters five times since 1988."
Quist called Parry's attacks "absolutely disgusting." He accused the two-term state senator from Waseca of helping Walz by trafficking in "cheap, misleading attacks."
"Parry has gone entirely negative this campaign," Quist told the newspaper. "None of his attacks have been on the important issues."
Quist is far ahead in fundraising, amassing a total of $218,000 through June, including $195,000 from his own pocket. Parry had raised $102,000 in the same time frame.
The Rochester Post-Bulletin also reported Wednesday that the two Republicans clashed over debates, with Quist accusing Parry of being afraid to debate him after Parry declined to participate in one organized by Debate Minnesota. Golnik told the paper the accusation was "laughable."
Quist and Parry will face each other Friday on Twin Cities Public Television's "Almanac" show. They are also scheduled to debate on KSTP-TV's "At Issue" on Aug. 5.
Both candidates, along with Walz, will participate in a larger congressional forum on Aug. 7 at the Farmfest agricultural fair near Redwood Falls, Minn.