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2014 PRIMARY ELECTION: Otto responds to Entenza

BEMIDJI -- State Auditor Rebecca Otto on Wednesday said her opponent in the DFL primary, Matt Entenza, was responsible for the unusually negative tone in the race.

“I don’t want to wallow in a muddy ditch with Matt,” she told the Pioneer in a phone interview. “I have an excellent record to run on, I know the job, and I’ve done it well.”

Otto, who is in her second term as state auditor, said Entenza’s policy pushes while campaigning demonstrate he doesn’t know how the position works.  

“My opponent clearly does not understand the job,” she said. “He’s been running on changing state policy, which is the Legislature and Governor’s job. He’s been running on… giving more money to the schools, more money to the rural cities through Local Government Aid, he’s talking about protecting Social Security… these are not things the office (of auditor) does.”

Entenza, who Otto described as “a perennial candidate with a lot of money,” previously ran for state attorney general in 2006 and governor in 2010. Both bids were unsuccessful.

In a Pioneer article Wednesday, Entenza said groups such as the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce want to privatize public employee pensions, and his last big campaign push ahead of the Aug. 12 primary would be his position against privatization.

While Otto agreed with Entenza insofar as there’s been a push to privatize the pensions of public employees, she said the state auditor does not have the authority to decide whether they are privatized or not.

“The Legislature and the Governor at the end of the day decide if there’s going to be privatization,” she said.

Entenza has also questioned Otto’s position on Voter ID laws, and his staff brought an official campaign complaint when she claimed she never voted for Voter ID as a legislator. A three-judge panel rejected Entenza’s claims July 24.  

Otto pointed out that Entenza served as DFL minority leader in the state House of Representatives while she was a member, and as such, advised her on which way to vote on bills.  

When asked if Entenza advised her on which way to vote specifically regarding Voter ID bills considered by the House in 2003, Otto did not answer, referring the question to Entenza.

Otto said the voter ID issue wasn’t relevant to the auditor’s race.

“Voter ID is not a big issue,” she said. “In Matt’s mind it is, because he doesn’t understand the job. Again, he’s going back to public policy, which is not the job of the state auditor, and he’s going back a decade on... a HAVA compliance bill; Help America Vote Act. It was after the Bush/Gore election and the ‘hanging chads.’ So… that’s him leading a dirty campaign and trying to mislead people.”

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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