Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Otto trounces Entenza in auditor race

MinnPost photo by Terry Gydesen
State Auditor Rebecca Otto spoke to supporters after winning a primary victory over challenger Matt Entenza on Tuesday night.

Rebecca Otto may be the huggiest auditor in the land.

And pretty quickly Tuesday night it became apparent there were abundant reasons for joyful hugging. Not only did the DFL’s incumbent state auditor easily win, she likely ended all future political hopes and dreams of her primary opponent, Matt Entenza.

It looks as if few will mourn the political passing of Entenza, who spent lavishly and got almost nothing in return. Entenza, who also had spent lavishly and lost mightily in a DFL gubernatorial primary four years ago, received only about 16 percent of the vote after spending upwards of $700,000 on this race. Otto plans to spend no more than $400,000 total for both the primary and the general election.

She will be opposed by Republican Randy Gilbert, who was unopposed in the GOP primary, in November. 

‘Love versus money’

In announcing that Entenza had called and conceded the race within 90 minutes of the polls closing, Otto made little effort to offer solace to her battered opponent. “This race came down to love versus money,” Otto told a surprisingly large crowd at her election-night party at Sweeney’s Saloon in St. Paul. “As Democrats, we all came together and showed that love still trumps money.”

The crowd cheered and Otto, at times tearing up, was hugging people left and right.

Entenza didn’t exactly throw bouquets toward Otto. After watching the early returns from his home, Entenza offered a brief concession statement. “We had obviously hoped for a better result but a dramatically low turnout made it difficult to overcome the advantage of an incumbent candidate,” Entenza said. 

That is a huge understatement. Entenza spent and spent and for his effort, got about 34,000 votes.

How pathetic is that total? Compare Entenza’s performance to that of perennial candidate Dick Franson, who’s been losing races in Minnesota for nearly a half century. Franson was running this cycle in the DFL primary for secretary of state. As usual, he was crushed. But Franson received about 9,000 more votes than Entenza.

But Entenza didn’t just get crushed, he also managed to enrage DFLers for jumping into the race as a late entry.

And yet as late as Tuesday morning, Entenza said he didn’t believe DFLers really were upset with him. “They’re (the Otto campaign) trying to create a message that people are mad at me,” Entenza said after voting at an empty St. Paul polling place Tuesday morning. “The idea people are mad at me is ludicrous.”

MinnPost photo by Terry Gydesen
Entenza: “The idea people are mad at me is ludicrous.”

Entenza pointed out that getting into the race against an endorsed candidate was little different from four years ago, when he and Mark Dayton ran against the DFL’s endorsed candidate for governor, Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

DFL chair notes big difference

But Ken Martin, the DFL’s party chairman, said Tuesday night there was a huge difference between the run against Kelliher and Entenza’s run against Otto.

“In 2010, it was an open seat,” Martin said. “They weren’t taking on a respected incumbent. There is just no comparison.”

Entenza’s late-entry into the race cost Otto time and money. On the other hand, the overwhelming size of her victory shows she’s a powerful force in Minnesota politics.

This was, after all, a down-ticket race — state auditor, for heaven’s sake. But Otto’s celebration Tuesday night was filled with a huge cross section of Minnesotans. There were Somalis and Hmong. There were young and old. And in the midst of it all there was the winner, hugging and posing for selfies with supporters.

Ed Gross, who has been running voting analytics for DFL politicians back to the days of Paul Wellstone, said electoral power now rests in Minnesota with suburban women. Otto, he said, is the perfect candidate for that demographic.

GOP will attack on mining and MNsure

She is supposed to have one big weakness, in mining country in northern Minnesota. As a member of the state’s executive council she voted against approval of some mining leases, and the GOP’s Gilbert wasted no time in attacking Otto on the issue. He also is attacking over her “refusal to expose the inexcusable fleecing of county and city taxpayers for the Vikings’  stadium.” He also will attack her on MNsure.  

But mining would seem to be the big deal here. Martin admits that Otto “has work to do” in the Eighth District, which traditionally has been DFL country. “But I think they’ll come home to the DFL,” said Martin, indicating that the party will invest considerable energy in pointing out that Republicans typically have not been supportive of things near and dear to Rangers. (Example: Rangers will be reminded from now to November of comments made by GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden that he would use “Chinese steel” for the proposed Keystone pipeline project.) 

Late in her thank-you address to her supporters, Otto suggested that perhaps Entenza helped create something special.

“My opponent tried to buy an election, but he couldn’t do it because of all of you,” she said. 

Comments (23)

  1. Submitted by Dave Eldred on 08/13/2014 - 09:43 am.

    “The idea people are mad at me is ludicrous.”

    Even by poltical standards, the self-delusion is breathtaking.

  2. Submitted by jody rooney on 08/13/2014 - 10:28 am.

    Can he please go out and get a real job now

    that may be something that would be novel for him.

    I sure won’t ever vote for him.

  3. Submitted by Mark Ohm on 08/13/2014 - 10:43 am.

    The only reason I went to the polls yesterday

    on a beautiful Minnesota sunny day was to vote specifically against Matt Entenza. I obviously was not the only one. Consider the message sent. But will it be received?

    • Submitted by Dan Kaufman on 08/13/2014 - 01:39 pm.

      Same for me

      Really the only reason to go to polls for DFL was to vote against Entenza.

      Great article here for pointing out that Dick Franson received 9000 more votes then Entenza.

      So, to clarify for Matt- yes, people (DFLers) are mad at you for entering this race. It did no one any good, especially yourself.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 08/13/2014 - 02:02 pm.


        I had no reason to vote in the primary, but I made it a point to show up and cast a vote for Otto. What made it even sweeter is the thought of Entenza lying in bed last night thinking about the wisdom of dropping 600K of his own money just to be embarrassed.

    • Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 08/13/2014 - 03:36 pm.

      Who cares if it’s received?

      It doesn’t matter if Entenza gets past his delusion. No DFLer will ever fear an Entenza primary challenge again. Maybe he could screw up a three-way race, but two-way like yesterday, he’ll be treated like just another perennial candidate. Maybe he’s a nice guy in person, but so are Dick Franson and Ole Savior.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/13/2014 - 04:16 pm.

      Same here

      Normally, I wouldn’t bestir myself to vote in a primary election for State Auditor, but this time I made an exception.

      Perhaps Mr. Entenza will try to spin this into a run for Secretary of State: “Look how I increased voter turnout!”

  4. Submitted by Sue Halligan on 08/13/2014 - 01:15 pm.

    Matt Entenza

    Hey dude, I’M mad at you!

  5. Submitted by Clinton Little on 08/13/2014 - 01:17 pm.

    The five P’s

    Well, let’s see… there’s patricians, parvenus, poseurs, and proletarians. And then there’s the very last group: politicians.

    While it’s an open question as to how Citizen Entenza would classify himself, I have my own ideas about his standing – me and apparently plenty of other Minnesota voters.

    Many casting ballots yesterday bothered to vote solely because of Mr. Entenza’s last minute entry into the race for Auditor. Specifically, I think many who otherwise would have probably skipped the primary came out just to vote against Mr. Entenza. It wasn’t pretty.

    But hearing Entenza’s take on yesterday’s outcome reminded me of what ‘Boss Jim Gettys’ famously said to Charles Foster Kane (in the movie “Citizen Kane”), about Kane’s candidacy,

    “… If it was anybody else, I’d say what’s going to happen to you would be a lesson to you. Only you’re going to need more than one lesson. And you’re going to get more than one lesson…”

    Any bets on Citizen Entenza showing up for more lessons?

  6. Submitted by Grace Kelly on 08/13/2014 - 02:00 pm.

    No Sulfide Mining Effect

    Dayton’s percentage between state wide and CD 8 drops by 3%. Simon’s percentage between state wide and CD 8 drops by 10%. So Otto’s drop of 6% is between those two numbers. I conclude that there was no effect based on sulfide mining.

  7. Submitted by Bruce Pomerantz on 08/13/2014 - 05:13 pm.

    To the detriment of Entenza

    The advantage of encumbancy included knowing the duties of state auditor.

  8. Submitted by Joe Musich on 08/13/2014 - 11:17 pm.

    I hope ..

    the auditor picks apart how state cash as been used to court sulfide mining.

  9. Submitted by Bob Petersen on 08/14/2014 - 09:05 am.

    $700,000 to spend?

    I just wish I had $700,000 period. Gotta love liberals with money to burn. The delusion reaches farther than just people mad at him.

  10. Submitted by Joseph Senkyr on 08/14/2014 - 01:01 pm.

    Spending hundreds of thousands of your own dollars just to lose a primary isn’t just a liberal thing. Is it, Scott Honour?

  11. Submitted by Jim Million on 08/14/2014 - 02:51 pm.

    Follow the Money?

    Is Matt Entenza still Mr. Lois Quam?

  12. Submitted by Mike Schumann on 08/14/2014 - 03:20 pm.

    Voting for Otto

    I almost forgot to vote on Tues, but went out of my way to vote for Otto. I loved her campaign ad…..

  13. Submitted by Barry Peterson on 08/15/2014 - 10:41 pm.

    I sent two letters to Matt, condemning his candidacy

    I’ve been involved in local, state, and national election since I was seventeen-years old. I am now fifty-two years old. I have served as a Senate District 59 and 60 Central Committee until after the last city election. I have screwed up in every way possible that a young volunteer can screw up, and I have gained greater traction and grace in the local DFL and in community volunteer work.

    I both called to Matt’s campaign, and I wrote to him two times, asking to be taken off of his mailing list. His vile assertions against Rebecca Otto turned me off completely, and I was against him opting in when we have a nationally respected auditor in the person of Rebecca Otto.

    For a guy who graduated from Macalester College, his earlier brilliance seems to have faded. Too bad he had access to so much money to throw away. I’ll go for a frugal-minded auditor over a spend-thrift any day.

  14. Submitted by Samarra Semanczyk on 08/18/2014 - 01:20 pm.

    Studied at Oxford

    Barry Peterson pointed out that Matt Entenza graduated from Macalester. Entenza, on his Facebook page, says he studied at Oxford. Was that a weekend short course in “political strategy” or some such thing?

Leave a Reply