Politics is giving Gov. Mark Dayton heartburn.
Controversy has flared up in Minnesota after a congressional candidate accused Dayton of taking "15 to 16 pills" at a breakfast meeting - a charge that Dayton, who says he takes only prescribed medications and antacids, has denied.
During a stump speech at an Aug. 6 fundraiser, candidate Mike Parry called Dayton "a scary man for the state of Minnesota." Parry not only slammed the Democratic governor's record, but also accused Dayton of taking drugs during a meeting. It was not specified when this meeting took place.
"When you sit across from him and you watch him pop 15 to 16 pills while you're having a meeting, it's scary," Parry said of Dayton.
Parry's speech was caught on video and put up on YouTube by the night of the fundraiser.
Dayton has openly stated that he takes medication for depression and also takes antacids. A number of Minnesota lawmakers have gone on record saying that Dayton does not have a drug problem and is entirely competent to serve as governor.
According to the Star Tribune, the governor denounced Parry's claims as the "worst form of gutter politics" and "a lie" during a regularly scheduled campaign event on Aug. 7. While Parry has conceded that the governor may have taken less than 15 or 16 pills, he has stood by his statement.
"I have all the sympathy in the world for people that have issues like that," Parry told local reporters. "What I was speaking about was that it would be very scary, very scary if our governor ended up with a House and a Senate that was controlled by one party."
The governor has stated that he does not recall a breakfast meeting where Parry was in attendance, and also can't think of a meeting in which he popped a number of pills. He did say, however, that he does "take medicine as needed for stomach acid," and that "sometimes when I'm meeting with legislators, I need more of them."
Chief of Staff Bob Hume echoed the governor's sentiments, saying that Dayton's office "saw the whole thing as a total fabrication."
"Ultimately this is the final gasp from a candidate who has nothing to offer the people in the first congressional district," Hume said. "The governor will not stoop to comment on Parry's vile personal attacks. However, he does want a retraction of Parry's lies about funding for Minnesota's veterans." In his Aug. 6 speech, Parry also made reportedly inaccurate claims about the governor's record as it pertains to the benefits and rights of Minnesota veterans.
Dayton and Parry have clashed before, primarily over Parry's controversial remarks and campaign tactics. Last year, Parry printed leaflets claiming that unions had bought Dayton's election, and in 2009, he drew a comparison between Democrats and pedophiles in a controversial tweet.
Parry will face off against Allen Quist in the Republican primary on August 14. The winner will face Democratic incumbent Rep. Tim Walz in November.