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Pat Anderson wins auditor endorsement

MINNEAPOLIS -- Pat Anderson won Republican Party backing early today to return to her old job as Minnesota state auditor.

"Right now, every penny counts," Anderson told party convention delegates at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Anderson beat two other opponents after three ballots, when the convention unanimously voted to support her. In the first ballot, Anderson earned almost half of the delegates' votes, and moved up to about the 60 percent needed for an endorsement in the next two ballots.

Anderson, of Dellwood, was ousted from the auditor's office by Democrat Rebecca Otto four years ago.

Thursday night, she promised to look into two programs mostly affecting rural Minnesota: Local Government Aid and Job Opportunity Building Zones. She has been critical of both.

Challenger Tom Conlon, a long-time St. Paul school board member, pulled out of the race and threw his support behind Anderson in his nomination speech.

Also in the race were state auditor's employee Jeff Wiita of Minnetonka and Long Lake Mayor Randy Gilbert.

Gilbert promoted himself as the only candidate with private experience. He called himself Minnesotans' "first line of defense as your state auditor."

He warned against $15 billion in unfunded government pension liabilities across the state, such as in Duluth. He promised to put together a report showing where those problems are.

Witta told delegates that he is the only candidate in either major party who is a certified public accountant. He said no state auditor has been a CPA.

He would put private firms to work auditing local governments and shrink the auditor's office, then he would propose a constitutional amendment to eliminate the auditor. He said the office needs to be taken out of politics.

Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.