BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - A state senator in his first full term said Friday he would try to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz in southern Minnesota.
Republican Mike Parry of Waseca said jobs and the economy would be central to his campaign as he tries to convince southern Minnesota voters that Walz, a three-term incumbent, is out of step with the district. Walz, a high school teacher and Army National Guard veteran, has been a Republican target since he knocked off an incumbent in 2006.
"I'm concerned when people tell me he is saying one thing in the district, and then gets to Washington and votes with his ultraliberal allies," Parry said of Walz, pointing to his 2010 vote in favor of President Obama's health care bill.
Kristin Sosanie, spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party, called Parry "a tea party Republican" with views far to the right of most residents in the 1st Congressional District.
"People will get to see what he stands for, which is cutting important programs, making decisions out of line with people in the district and catering to special interests and the far right wing of the party," Sosanie said.
Walz survived his toughest contest after the health care vote in 2010 by defeating a Republican state legislator by 5 percentage points in a four-way race.
The 1st District runs across southern Minnesota from the Wisconsin to South Dakota borders. It includes large rural areas, many small towns and several cities including Rochester, Winona and Mankato. Parry's hometown of Waseca is not far from the district's northern border, which could change with next year's redistricting, but he said he didn't expect the boundaries to be altered too much.
But Parry did not close the door on jumping back into the race for his state Senate seat if Waseca ended up outside the 1st District. He also said he would not run in the primary if he didn't receive the Republican Party's endorsement for the congressional race.
Parry, 58, joined the state Senate after winning a special election in early 2010 and won a full term that fall. When the GOP took control of the state Senate in January, he became chairman of the State Government Innovations and Veterans Committee.
Perry was born and raised in Albert Lea, also in the 1st District. A veteran of the Army National Guard as well as a former police officer, Parry is a former radio station manager and a business owner whose family owns a Godfather's Pizza franchise in Waseca.
He and his wife, Kathy, have two adult children.
Condon reported from Minneapolis.