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Entenza’s late move to take on Otto draws ire of DFL leaders

Matt Entenza
MinnPost file photo by Terry Gydesen
Matt Entenza

With minutes to go before a deadline to file as a candidate for the fall election, former DFL House Minority Leader Matt Entenza submitted his name to take on fellow DFLer and State Auditor Rebecca Otto, drawing the ire of some progressive leaders in the state.

Entenza, who served in the House representing St. Paul from 1995 to 2007, filed his paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office just before the 5 p.m. deadline to file for office Tuesday, touting his long career “championing progressive policies” in the Legislature and as founder of liberal think-tank, Minnesota 2020.  

“I’m running for State Auditor so that we are doing more than just balance the books. We need an auditor fighting to protect pensions that are under attack, who will go after corporate giveaways at the local level,” Entenza said in a statement. “We need an auditor who will scrutinize education spending and school budgets, focusing on why Minnesota schools have such a bad achievement gap.”

Entenza hasn’t shied away from challenging other Democrats in primary elections. He was part of a three-way primary for the DFL nomination for the governor’s race in 2010, pumping nearly $6 million into that contest. He finished third in the gubernatorial primary.

DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin made it clear that the party will protect Otto, who was endorsed for re-election at the party’s convention over the weekend.

“Although he was a one-time House DFL leader, Matt Entenza has a history of running in DFL primaries. His last-minute filing is an insult to the hard-working DFLers he has to win over,” Martin said. “The DFL takes the endorsements of its candidates seriously and will put the full weight of its party resources behind Auditor Otto’s candidacy. I am confident that she will prevail in the primary and general election.”

Entenza hit on two progressive issues in particular — his staunch opposition to voter identification legislation and proposals to ban gay marriage in the state. He pointed out that Otto, a former legislator running for her third term as auditor, voted in favor of those proposals in the Legislature.

“She voted with Republicans to place a ban on marriage equality on the ballot and voted in support of Voter ID legislation restricting Minnesotans’ access to voting,” he said.

Otto said she didn’t know Entenza was going to file to run against her, but she’s prepared for a primary competition. 

“I had a great weekend last weekend at the state DFL convention. I’ve traveled the state and talked to thousands of activists and Minnesotans and people are very proud of the work that I’ve done for Minnesota,” Otto told MinnPost, citing a national award she won for cutting energy costs for local goverments and her work on issues like affordable housing for low-income Minnesotans. “I have accomplished much and there is more I would like to do on behalf of Minnesotans. I’m confident voters will reward my hard work with another term.”

She dismissed Entenza’s criticism of her previous votes in the Legislature. “[That was] 11 years ago,” she said. 

The winner of the Aug. 12 primary will face endorsed GOP candidate Randy Gilbert and Independence Party Candidate Patrick Dean in November.

Otto won her first race against Republican State Auditor Pat Anderson in 2006 by about 10 points, but she only won re-election in 2010 by 1 point, fighting a huge GOP wave year.

Gov. Mark Dayton said he pledged his support for Otto before he knew of Entenza’s intentions to run. “I stand by my promise to support her,” Dayton said in statement from his campaign. “Although Auditor Otto and I disagree on some issues, she has been a good State Auditor, and she deserves re-election.” 

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by jody rooney on 06/04/2014 - 09:44 am.

    Oh for gosh sakes one of the best DFLers out there

    and this hack files to run against her. Clearly the party is pretty sure who represents their values better. The last thing the party needs for this seat is a primary challenge.

    Why would Mr. E complain about Ms. Otto’s vote on putting the gay marriage amendment on the ballot. Putting it before the voters was the way it was finally defeated. Seems like it was the best strategy.

    Cleary this guy doesn’t have any skills outside of politics or he would go find another job.

    Rebecca Otto has taken a low key approach to managing the auditors office and as such has gotten quiet compliance from those she has audited without resorting to the kind of hysterics Mr. E is noted for. There is no need for a change.

    Mr. E it is time for you to grow up and go home.

  2. Submitted by Kevin Watterson on 06/04/2014 - 09:54 am.

    I appreciate you using the years he held office rather than the years in which he was elected.

  3. Submitted by Robert Helland on 06/04/2014 - 11:56 am.

    Media Bias Report: Minnpost does it again…

    Ms. Bierschbach:

    “The winner of the Aug. 12 primary will face endorsed GOP candidate Randy Gilbert in November.”

    Are you aware that the Independence Party of Minnesota has major party status?
    Are you aware that Pat Dean is an endorsed major party candidate?
    Are you aware Pat Dean has filed with the secretary of state and campaign finance and public disclosure board?
    Are you aware as a major party candidate with no primary challengers, Pat Dean is guaranteed ballot access?

    Who are you, or who are the media, to decide who is running against whom?

    The law is the law and law decides who will be on the ballot. This is a dangerous habit you are developing, Minnpost.

    Give the people the information to which we are entitled. Stop playing favorites in two-party politics.

    Forgive my insolence but I am livid with this publication’s ignorance and, Minnesota, you should be, too.

    ~ Bob Helland
    Bob Helland for Secretary of State
    Endorsed Independence Party candidate
    @SosBobMN on Twitter

  4. Submitted by Bob Petersen on 06/05/2014 - 08:26 am.

    Matt is in this for Matt

    He has never been in politics except to advance himself. He’s got lots of corporate money, mainly from his wife’s work, and he wants to use the auditor position as a soapbox.

    Matt, if you want to run policy, run for other office. The auditor’s job is to make sure things are run smoothly and the money goes where it is legislated to go. You have that position all backwards.

  5. Submitted by Herb Garcia on 06/05/2014 - 09:54 am.

    Pass the Smelling Salts!

    I think some people are about to faint. I didn’t realize that an incumbent’s seat was someone’s property.

    Matt has been a good soldier for the DFL for a long time. He is constantly hosting fund-raising for candidates up and down the ladder. I know, because I get invites from him more than any other political figure to give to candidates. When he was beat in the gubernatorial primary he went right to work fund-raising for Dayton. I’m sure he will continue to do so as he has for a long time.

    I don’t know why Matt has decided to pursue this office in this manner, but I’m convinced it’s because he believes he can do a better job, and is willing to take the heat from the ankle-biters to do it.

  6. Submitted by Raj Maddali on 06/05/2014 - 09:58 pm.

    Elected for life

    Gosh, I never knew DFL elections were for life. You learn something every day !!!

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