The press wanted a word with Mike Parry.

The word they got was "unavailable."

The First District congressional candidate was back at the Capitol Thursday to helm aSenate hearing into a new tentative contract deal between the state and its largest employee unions. Instead, he faced questions -- first from Senate Democrats, then from reporters -- about how he's conducting his campaign.

Just days before, the second-term Republican from Waseca claimed he'd witnessed Gov. Mark Dayton popping "15 or 16" pills during a meeting. The claim sparked a spirited denial from Dayton and harsh criticism of Parry from other quarters.

During the hearing, DFL committee members questioned whether he'd called the hearing as a pre-election stunt to grab headlines. He faces former lawmaker Allen Quist in a contested GOP primary next Tuesday. The winner will challenge incumbent Democratic Rep. Tim Walz in November.

Asked about the charges after the hearing, Parry said: "Excuse me, if you want to talk about the [congressional] race, then we'll go outside and talk about it."

When? Reporters wanted to know. Fifteen minutes.  Where? The lawn outside the Capitol.

Fifteen minutes came and went. Then another 15 minutes. Finally, a sheepish GOP staffer emerged to announce that Parry would be "unavailable." 

Attempts to reach Parry for comment thus far have been unsuccessful.

This isn't the first time Parry has evaded the Capitol press corps.Last March, he pulled Senate President MIchelle Fischbach away from reporters and closed an office door in their faces.  It isn't even the first time today that he walked away from a stressful situation. During the hearing, Parry called an abrupt recess when the large crowd of union supporters in the room snickered when DFL senators questioned his motives.

"I let the sparring go maybe a little bit too long between the representatives," Parry told reporters afterward, when asked about the recess. "I just felt it was time just to slow it down and the best way to do that is to call a recess, let everyone just cool down."