Entenza files to challenge Otto for state auditor

Entenza files for Auditor
Matt Entenza files his paperwork to challenge Rebecca Otto for State Auditor. MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

In a last minute surprise, former state Rep. Matt Entenza announced he's challenging Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto in the DFL primary. Entenza filed his paperwork just 15 minutes before today's filing deadline. He said there’s more to being state auditor than balancing the books.

“We need an auditor that is going to fight more aggressively to protect pensions, to go after corporate giveaways at the local level, an auditor who is going to scrutinize education spending to see why the achievement gap is still so bad," Entenza said.

Entenza also criticized Otto's votes when she was a state legislator to ban same-sex marriage and for a bill that would require people to present photo identification to vote.

Otto served in the Minnesota Legislature 2003 - 2004. She's running for her third term as state auditor.

Otto said she didn't know about Entenza's primary challenge. She said she improved the volunteer fire fighter system across Minnesota and helped rework police procedures regarding property evidence.

"I know the job and I believe that the voters in November will reward me with another term because of how much I have been able to accomplish for them," Otto said.

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Otto did not specifically address Entenza's claims about her voter ID and same sex marriage votes.  But an email from Otto's campaign said that Otto opposed and campaigned against both amendments when they were on the ballot in 2012. Both amendments were defeated in the November general election.

Otto has been heavily criticized by supporters of copper/nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota after she voted against issuing mineral leases to several companies hoping to drill for the metals. Otto says her vote was to protect the taxpayer's best interest and "trying to provide transparency about the financial assurance piece" put forward by companies.

Entenza says he doesn't intend to make mining an issue during the campaign for state auditor. He says they should follow the environmental review process for any company that wants to begin mining in Minnesota.

Entenza has run against the party's endorsed candidates in the past. In 2010, he challenged Margaret Anderson Kelliher for governor. Both Entenza and Kelliher lost their primary bids to Gov. Mark Dayton. Entenza also dropped his bid for Minnesota attorney general in 2006 after reports surfaced that he hired a private investigator to look into then-Attorney General Mike Hatch.

Otto received the DFL endorsement over the weekend. DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said the party will back Otto's candidacy. He called Entenza's filing an "insult" to hard-working DFLers.

Republicans have endorsed former Long Lake Mayor Randy Gilbert for state auditor.