Among the various themes state Sen. Mike Parry of Waseca had offered voters in his Republican primary race against Allen Quist was that his Senate district was a microcosm of the 1st Congressional District.
And Parry said he had proven in two Senate elections that he could attract the independents and conservative Democrats needed to win in a tough district. That was the sort of candidate the Republicans needed, Parry said, to topple Democratic Congressman Tim Walz in November.
Then came Tuesday’s primary election, when voters in Parry’s Senate district picked Quist over their hometown lawmaker. Quist, a rural St. Peter farmer, won Senate District 24 with 1,862 votes to Parry’s 1,687.
Parry’s district was changed somewhat by redistricting earlier this year, but the Waseca restaurant owner won only one of the three counties he currently represents. And Parry lost five of six precincts in his hometown of Waseca, falling overall in the city by a vote of 294-332.
One consolation for Parry, an Albert Lea native and member of a state champion football team at Albert Lea High School, was Freeborn County. He won 54 percent of the vote there.
The final tallies
Of the 21 counties in the 1st District, Quist won 16 in route to his victory and the chance to meet Walz on Nov. 6.
The final numbers: Quist picked up 12,541 votes (54 percent) to Parry’s 10,622 (46 percent).
Quist won 58 percent of the vote in Nicollet County, which he represented in the state House for three terms in the 1980s, and was nearly as strong in Blue Earth County (56 percent of the vote), where he taught at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato for many years.
Quist’s biggest dominance came in Martin County (74 percent) and he had victories ranging from 58 to 64 percent in the southwestern counties of Nobles and Rock and in the central counties of Faribault, Cottonwood, Watonwan, Brown, Le Sueur and Dodge.
Parry won the biggest county of Olmsted — dominated by Rochester — albeit narrowly with 51 percent. His other victories were Steele (Owatonna), Fillmore and Jackson, as well as Freeborn.
Walz, by the way, was unopposed in Tuesday’s Democratic primary and his supporters typically had little motivation to go to the polls. But he managed to beat the combined totals of Quist and Parry in two counties — Faribault County, where turnout was relatively high because of a school referendum in the United South Central district, and in Mower County (Austin), which is a Democratic stronghold.