The grandmother of 4-year-old Eric Dean, who was murdered by his stepmother in 2013, called on the Republican Party of Minnesota to immediately stop airing a new television advertisement which blames Governor Mark Dayton for the death of her grandson.
Dean also requested Jeff Johnson, the Republican candidate for governor, call for the ad to be taken down.
In an emotional phone interview this evening, Yvonne Dean, the mother of Eric's father David, said Governor Mark Dayton was not to blame for Eric's death and was highly critical of the advertisement, calling it "unfair." Dean said the "system failed Eric at the county level...how could that be Governor Dayton's fault?"
Dean, who self-identified herself as Republican, said "I just can't believe somebody would use [Eric's death] for political gain," adding "I am awestruck that they have done something like this." Dean said "to use our family's tragedy, is crossing the line."
A picture of Eric is featured in the ad, but Dean said the family was not consulted or notified by anyone from the Republican Party of Minnesota that his image would be used. Dean said she "would not have allowed" Eric's image to appear in the advertisement, adding "a political campaign is not the proper place at all for those images to be used."
Jeff Bakken, spokesman for Jeff Johnson's campaign refused to comment tonight. A call placed to the Republican Party of Minnesota requesting a comment about the advertisement was not returned.
UPDATE #1 - 11:17 PM: Jeff Larson, who is running the independent expenditure arm of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said tonight, "there is no place in politics for this kind of advertisement."
UPDATE #2 - 10:14 AM, Thursday, October 23: Yvonne Dean contacted the Republican Party of Minnesota this morning and asked for the television ad to be taken down. She was told by a staffer that the Republican Party of Minnesota would not stop broadcasting the TV ad.
Picture Source: Screen capture of Republican Party of Minnesota ad