MANKATO — A Waseca state senator, who has gained a reputation as a deeply conservative and sometimes combative lawmaker during his 21 months in the Legislature, announced Friday that he intends to knock off Congressman Tim Walz in next year’s First District contest.
Sen. Mike Parry is the first Republican to announce a run against Walz, a three-term Democrat from Mankato and a former teacher at West High School. Walz attracted five Republican challengers in 2010, but all dropped out after state Rep. Randy Demmer of Hayfield beat them at an endorsing convention in April.
Parry is hopeful that activists will rally around his campaign and his message of smaller government, fewer regulations, and private sector solutions to the nation’s lagging economy.
“If you step out there, you show them you’re a leader, people will follow and jump on board,” he said.
A former broadcaster and manager in the radio industry and currently co-owner of a Waseca pizza restaurant, Parry said he’s confident he can match Walz in fundraising and win the race.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe I could do that, and I know I can.”
By filing the required paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission, Parry can start the daunting task of raising well over $1 million for the campaign. Walz has proven a strong fundraiser, spending $1.4 million in upsetting 12-year veteran Congressman Gil Gutknecht in 2006 and topping $2 million in each of his re-election bids.
Parry hasn’t set a goal for campaign donations but said he has strong skills in fundraising.
“I do know that I’m a hard charger. I work from sun-up to sun-down and then some.”
Because congressional district lines haven’t yet been redrawn following the 2010 census and aren’t expected to be finalized until late in the winter, it isn’t guaranteed that Parry and Walz will be in the same district. That uncertainty may keep other potential contenders from jumping into the Republican endorsement fight.