State Auditor Race Gets Competitive, Combative

MINNAEPOLIS (WCCO) — The normally quiet Minnesota state auditor’s race is suddenly heating up.

Former Minnesota House leader Matt Entenza filed last-minute papers to run against fellow Democrat Rebecca Otto, who has been state auditor for the last eight years.

And Otto says she’s done a good job of watch-dogging the billions of state dollars that go to local governments.

“My approach has been to help local officials be successful in being good stewards of public funds, meaning that we don’t want things to go wrong in local government,” Otto said. “We want things to go very well, to keep them out of the headlines.”

But Entenza is running against Otto because he says she’s not an “activist.”

“If the standard for re-election is just that things are quiet, then that’s fine,” Entenza said. “But I think you want an auditor who’s a leader and who’s going to stand up and be very active.”

Entenza says Otto should be more active on pensions and going after what he calls “corporate welfare” by local governments competing to lure business.

But he’s also hitting her on a vote she took against gay marriage some 11 years ago.

“When you’re tested in a time when it’s difficult, and you stand up, that’s a measure of who you are as a leader,” he said.

Entenza says he was the first legislator to introduce a bill legalizing gay marriage in 1995. Otto says she now supports gay marriage, and worked with the statewide campaign to pass it.

“The issue has evolved over time. It was the biggest mistake of my public service career. And I said that over and over and over in public. And I’ve worked hard to make sure we have marriage equality in this state,” she said.

Otto isn’t afraid to throw her own punches, questioning Entenza’s motive for entering the race.

Noting that two of the last four Minnesota governors – Mark Dayton and Arne Carlson – first served as state auditor, Otto says that may be Entenza’s real ambition.

“Sometimes people mistake this race, or use this office, to run for higher office,” Otto said. “And then it’s more about ‘gotcha’ politics and getting headlines for yourself as an elected official rather than digging in and doing the people’s business.”

More from Pat Kessler
  • Daily Brief: Friday, June 6th, 2014 - DFL SD 48 ~ Democrats of Southern Minnetonka and Eden Prairie

    […] SIDEWAYS THUMBS: We weren’t at last weekend’s GOP State Convention, so we won’t pile on in the aftermath of what happened when gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert released his delegates to the furor of the convention crowd. All we’ll say is we’re not a big fan of what he did, mostly because of the negative ruckus it stirred in a party that really doesn’t need a negative ruckus. The crowd wasn’t happy with him, and the press took him to task. But this we know: He can take it – he knows if one can’t take the heat, the kitchen is not the place to be. Well, he’s in the kitchen now. We believe Seifert would do things differently if given another chance, but in the end, he will have to live with a decision that could haunt him at the Aug. 12 primary. Will voters remember what went down in Rochester last weekend? Perhaps, but it would be nice if his competitors would steer clear of casting stones at him (in the same vein, it would behoove Seifert to do the same – he has said he will run a clean campaign, and we hope he stays true to that). As a whole, the Republican Party has been doing damage control for some time now, and the remaining candidates have a chance to move the party forward – given they can get out of each other’s way and sell themselves as opposed to raking muck within the party. In the end, one candidate will be left standing, and for the sake of the party, the other candidates and all Republicans in Minnesota would be wise to fully get behind whomever wins in August, because the party at the state level needs unity, not more divisiveness. We hope Seifert can steer himself out of this fishtail he’s in right now and remain a viable competitor in the race. We still maintain that having a rural person running the show at the Capitol will be good for Greater Minnesota – and southwest Minnesota; how can anyone in this region or any other rural area argue that? In that respect, we wish Seifert the best of luck going forward. Marshall Independent State Auditor DFL auditor primary challenge continues to roil, Star Tribune State Auditor race gets competitive, combative, WCCO […]

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