The party failed to field candidates against Mankato Democratic Sen. Kathy Sheran or St. Peter Democratic Rep. Terry Morrow, likely the first time in history the party had been without a candidate in Blue Earth and Nicollet County legislative races.
Republicans also struggled mightily to settle on a candidate against Walz, whom national Democrats had put on a list of potentially vulnerable swing-district incumbents. State Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, and former state Rep. Allen Quist, R-St. Peter, both wanted a crack at the three-termer.
When it came time for southern Minnesota Republican activists to endorse a candidate, they deadlocked. For 14 hours and 23 rounds of balloting, delegates never came close to giving either contender the 60 percent support required for endorsement.
A Waseca County delegate expressed hope that it would be an advantage to have both Republicans running through the Aug. 14 primary election, provided Quist and Parry could agree to attack only Walz — not each other — during the spring and summer campaigning.
“I don’t look at this as a no-endorsement. I look at it as a co-endorsement,” the Waseca County man said. “We love both these candidates equally.”
But they didn’t love each other.
Parry publicized controversial statements and actions by Quist in the 1980s and 1990s, saying they made him a long-shot to topple Walz.
“I think it’s time for him to man up and face the music,” Parry said.
Quist — who accused Parry of being too liberal, too ignorant on key issues and too ill-prepared to debate Walz — said Parry’s attacks showed desperation.
“You can tell how successful we’ve been by the shrill negative attacks from my opponent,” Quist wrote to supporters. “Nothing positive is coming from him — no issues, no leadership, no direction. Just negative attacks.”