An ongoing kerfuffle in Minnesota Senate District 26 — where Republican candidate Mike Parry, seeking to replace GOP Sen. Dick Day in a special election Jan. 26, has been taken to task for some controversial tweets last year — is refusing to die.
In a statement that resembled an official apology this week, Parry — who called President Obama a “power-hungry, arrogant black man” in a tweet last May — claimed responsibility for all statements on his Twitter account.
But in an interview with the Waseca County News this week, Parry repeated his assertion that Obama is “arrogant and angry” and accused Democrats of “grasping for straws” in their criticism.
“My opinion is that our president is arrogant and angry,” Parry told the newspaper. “The fact is that he is a black man.
“Now if the Democratic Party and the liberals want to take my opinion and the fact and mix it together and use it to bring a bad light about me and keep them away from discussing the real issues, they can do that all they want. They’re grasping for straws.”
The Twitter furor arose when Parry’s “power-hungry, arrogant black man” tweet from last May was uncovered. The same month, Parry appeared to draw a parallel between Democrats and pedophiles: “What’s with Dems and pedophiles?” he tweeted, a remark that some bloggers have suggested referred to national legislation aimed at increasing protections for victims of hate crimes who are targeted because of their sexual orientation.
Both the Obama and pedophile tweets, along with more than 30 others, were suddenly removed from Parry’s Twitter account, though Parry claimed to have no knowledge either of who was responsible for removing them, or who had posted the pedophile remark.
On Wednesday, the state DFL Party called a news conference in St. Paul, during which party chair Brian Melendez called Parry’s views “racist and homphobic” and asked him to come clean about who authorized the tweets and who erased them.
“If you’re willing to use your Twitter account as a mouthpiece for racist and homophobic comments, will you treat a seat in the Minnesota Legislature the same way?” Melendez asked.
Shortly before the DFL’s news conference, Parry issued a statement through his campaign.
“I sincerely apologize for past tweets which were written in haste and out of the frustration I felt for the out-of-control spending in Washington,” the statement read. “Given the fragile state of our economy and the kind of out-of-control and wasteful spending we’re seeing from Democrats, the people of Senate District 26 must have an election about the future.
“While volunteers to my campaign removed several tweets without my knowledge, I take full responsbility for all mistakes in my past tweets.”
Parry, who is running for Day’s seat against DFLer Jason Engbrecht and Waseca Mayor Roy Srp, representing the Independence Party, got Day’s endorsement this week and praised the senator in the Waseca County News: “He thinks on his own and doesn’t follow party lines,” Parry said. “I’m following the same line; I’m not politically correct, and I’m not afraid to say what I think.”