Quist Versus Parry in the First District
After a marathon 23 ballot endorsing convention both Allen Quist and State Senator Mike Parry have decided to face off in the August GOP Primary. I have to admit I was a little surprised that the delegates didn’t endorse. Usually, at some key moment, just enough delegates break away from one candidate, usually the one perceived as being “less electable”, switching to the more “electable” candidate to give them momentum and the eventual win. Not in this case. The non-endorsement in and of itself is unusual in recent times in the MNGOP. But more than that the contest sets up the potential for a real knock down drag out primary battle.
Parry is a tough campaigner and a no non-sense guy, but I have known Allen Quist for 18 years and he can be as tough as a junk yard dog when he needs to be. And more so because there is no doubt that Quist sees this race as his last opportunity for elective office. Political pundits will be dismissive of Quist because of the notoriety he gained in his 1994 campaign for Governor as the MNGOP endorsed candidate against then Governor (and then Republican) Arne Carlson. Most people now forget that in that campaign Quist had actually been getting good press and had some momentum coming out of the convention until the “men are genetically predisposed to be the heads of the household” comment . . . after that the Carlson machine ate him (and the rest of the GOP endorsed state-wide ticket) alive.
But that was 18 years ago. There are people who will be able to vote in this primary who were babies during that campaign. To most of the rest of the voting public what happened 18 years ago will be at best a hazy memory. This means Quist has the opportunity to win the primary if he can do three things:
#1 — He raises enough money to do paid media, but more importantly targeted direct mail and paid advocacy calling (he also has to do this stuff well).
#2 — He motivates his ideologically driven supporters to give him a solid grassroots ground game.
#3 — He stays on message like a laser, giving the GOP voting base the red meat they want on taxes, spending, the economy, etc. without going off on tangents and getting in the weeds (getting in the weeds = gaffes).
But Mike Parry will be no push over for Quist. As a state senator he is well-known in the central part of the district and is media savvy, and should do better on the earned media side of the campaign than Quist. For Parry to win the primary he needs to do the following:
#1 — Raise money — he cannot allow Quist to have a money advantage and expect to win. Parry needs to be able to match or exceed Quist on TV/Radio as well as with paid mail and phones. He has a very experienced campaign team, so if he rasies the money to give them the tools he should be in good shape.
#2 — Make Walz the enemy and make the primary a contest about he is better able to beat Walz. As much as people say they hate so-called negative campaigning, elections are ultimately about contrasts — Parry must contrast himself with Quist directly. If the primary voters believe they are both equally electable they will support the candidate with the most red meat and Allen Quist will not hesitate to give them that red meat.
Prediction: Too early to tell, but it will be interesting to watch.