DFL primary for state auditor becoming combative and contentious race

By KBJR News 1

July 18, 2014 Updated Jul 19, 2014 at 9:39 PM CDT

DULUTH, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) --- In an office that is typically the most politically ignored, the race for state auditor is shaping up to be the most combative and contentious statewide race in Minnesota.

Former DFL lawmaker Matt Entenza filed last minute papers to run against a member of his own party, State Auditor Rebecca Otto.

Entenza is criticizing Otto for a vote she took against gay marriage eleven years ago.

"That was a decade ago," Otto said. "I did identify that it was a very big mistake – the biggest mistake that I made – and I worked from that time forward to make sure we had marriage equality in our state."

Entenza says he is running because he wants to see a progressive state auditor that will do more on pensions and corporate welfare.

"I'm calling for an activist's auditor's office – an office that is going to do more for the people," Entenza said.

"Minnesotans don't tolerate activist state auditors very well," Otto said. "You are not there to set public policy, you don't give out money, you don't set policy. It's an oversight job and if you don't understand that you should not be in the office."

Otto says Entenza is running for State Auditor for future political ambitions.

"He wants to be governor, he ran for that before, he ran for attorney general, now he is running for state auditor – it's office shopping," Otto said.

Entenza is also taking the case to voters that Otto has a "too–cozy relationship with major accounting companies."

The Entenza campaign further cites Otto's work for hosting a national state auditors' convention that was sponsored by accounting firms doing business with local municipalities.

“He said that we regulate privacy pay firms – we don’t. He said that we watch dog them – we don’t. He does not understand auditing,” Otto said Friday.

Entenza spent millions of his own money for a failed campaign for governor in 2010 – and some believe he is willing to do it again.

Alisa Von Hagel says with the possibility of self financing, Entenza may make this race competitive, which means more political mudslinging.

"With the increase in fundraising capacities these races are going to become more contentious with the amount of money involved and thus stirring up the same type of political mudslinging," said Von Hagel, who is a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin Superior.

The two Democrats will face off in the August primary. Whoever wins the DFL primary will go onto face former Long Lake Mayor Randy Gilbert, who is running as a Republican.

Nick Minock