Dayton makes a stop in Austin

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 20, 2000

What Mark Dayton must do between now and the Sept.

Sunday, August 20, 2000

What Mark Dayton must do between now and the Sept. 12 State Primary Election is develop name recognition that matches him with the office he is seeking.

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Dayton is a Democrat seeking the U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Rod Grams, a Republican.

He doesn’t have his party’s endorsement and in a crowded field, just getting the electorate’s attention will be hard.

But, it’s a different kind of election this year.

There are three other candidates vying for the seat.

Jerry Janezich is the party’s endorsed candidate for Grams’ U.S. Senate seat.

Rebecca Yanisch and Mike Ceresi are also running.

Dayton’s campaign has focused, in part, on the high cost of prescription drugs. He’s taken half a dozen bus trips to Canada with Minnesota senior citizens so they may purchase the lower priced prescriptions there.

Friday, Dayton visited The Cedars of Austin to discuss the issues with seniors.

"I’m just here to listen and learn," Dayton said at the outset of the parlor room sit-down with The Cedars’ residents.

Dayton and one aide made the trip and made it as low-keyed as possible.

He arrived fashionably late for a candidate and settled in next to Harve Bauer on a couch with Marie Bauer and a handful of other seniors nearby.


Dayton has made six trips to Canada with 150 senior citizens.

"One couple from New Ulm drove to Duluth to board the bus and join us. They said it was worth their while when they purchased the prescription drugs they needed and saved $1,400," Dayton said. "By buying the same drugs in Canada, Minnesotans can save half the price or even two-thirds the price they pay for the same drugs in the United States.

"Meanwhile, our government does nothing. The HMOs and self-insurers don’t care. There’s no negotiations going on between the government and the pharmaceutical companies.

"It’s …," he said groping for the appropriate adjective. "It’s … "

"Sinful?" volunteer Marie Bauer.

"That’s it," responded Dayton, "It’s sinful. The pharmaceutical companies are being greedy, and greed is one of the seven deadly sins. So, I agree, it’s sinful to charge that much for prescription drugs.

"These companies are preying on people who are the most medically dependent in our society," he added.

The prescription drug issue prompted the liveliest and longest discussion during Dayton’s visit.

Leo Reding, the former long-time state legislator from Austin and a Dayton political ally, joined the conversation.

Reding talked about the recent flooding and how detention ponds in the watersheds around Austin could forestall similar disasters.

Reding, a well-known conservationist, also chimed in with a pitch to legislators to consider removing taxes from wetlands.

"They’ve taken these lands out of production, because they’re no good and to tax them is really making the farmers mad," he said.

Charles Painter, 95, talked farm issues with Dayton.

Whenever there was a lull in the conversation, Dayton reminded his hosts, "I’m here to listen. I’m here to get advice."