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Senator and governor battle, then agree to peace breakfast

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ST. PAUL -- Perhaps a hardy breakfast can lead to a truce between one of Minnesota's most conservative Republicans, who wants to serve in Congress, and the state's liberal Democratic governor.

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After a day of back-and-forth emails and letters sharply criticizing each other, Sen. Mike Parry, R-Waseca, late Friday afternoon accepted an invitation from Gov. Mark Dayton for a fence-mending breakfast this week.

The spat, the latest of several between the two politicians, was about a day care unionization vote Dayton wanted but a judge ruled was not within his power to call. Parry strongly opposes the election.

The Friday chapter began when Dayton read a Parry email from his congressional campaign office (he is challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Walz in southern Minnesota). Parry claimed that Dayton's plan was to "force hard working Minnesotans into a union."

Dayton fired off a response to the Parry campaign email at 7:48 a.m. Friday, telling Parry and Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, that he was canceling a meeting with the two GOP lawmakers.

"Sen. Parry, this email is inaccurate and deeply offensive," Dayton wrote, saying no one would be forced to join a union. Dayton said he would require any future communication with Parry to be in writing.

The governor apologized to Drazkowski and said he would meet with him alone on the original meeting topic, state union negotiations not related to day care providers.

Parry responded with a letter pointing out that despite their differences, they worked together on veterans' issues earlier this year and he wanted to "bury the hatchet."

To that, Dayton sent Parry a letter inviting him to breakfast "to discuss ways in which we can continue to work constructively together."

Parry accepted the offer to eat Thursday morning at Dayton's official residence.

"While we have our disagreements, it is important that we maintain that democratic spirit and continue to work together to better our government and our way of life," Parry wrote.

One of the earlier Dayton-Parry disputes involved veterans' program funding. They were in what was described as a tense meeting, but later resolved the issue.

Don Davis reports for the Bulletin and other Forum Communications Co. newspapers.

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Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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