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State Auditor Candidates Spar One Day Before Primary, Challenger Visits Duluth

Updated: 08/11/2014 11:07 PM
Created: 08/11/2014 11:03 PM WDIO.com

An office that seldom gets much public attention has provided one of Minnesota's most intense primary battles this summer. On the day before the primary election, the battle for state auditor used Duluth as a battleground. 

State Auditor Rebecca Otto is trying to fend off a hard challenge from fellow DFL'er Matt Entenza, a former top legislator who is spending loads of personal money on the race. The contest pits former legislative colleagues and has proven acrimonious from the get-go.

On Monday, Entenza campaigned in Duluth promoting his progressive plans for the job if he wins the seat. He says the state auditor should do more than just balance the books.

On the job he would be "defending pensions and stopping pension privatization," according to Entenza. "We need a more active auditor that's going to be working to protect our schools and digging into school finance issues to make sure all of our kids can succeed, and we need someone who's going to be an advocate for rural communities so that we can create more jobs and create more economic vitality."

"The incumbent auditor doesn't want to work on those issues... she says it's not her job, I say if it's not the auditor's job, than whose job is it?"

In response, Otto called Entenza's campaign misleading. She says that the auditor's job is not to create policy, and the things that Entenza is promising is not within the auditor's authority. 

"He doesn't understand this job. He's making promises he can't keep. He's trying to scare seniors by saying their social security is going to be privatized and somehow he's going to stop it," she said. "That's the most disingenious form of campaigning that I've ever seen in my lifetime in Minnesota, and I think that should be a definite red flag for voters."

Otto says she hopes voters reward her earnest approach to the job over the past two terms. She also points to the awards won during her service in office, including a President's Award on Monday.

The President's Award is given each year to one state auditor, one state comptroller and one state treasurer to recognize exceptional efforts in government financial management and accountability, according to a release from the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers

The state Democratic Party has rallied to Otto's defense with mailings and get-out-the-vote calls. But Entenza has waged a visible campaign with the help of $675,000 in personal contributions and big-time endorsements.

Tuesday's winner next faces Republican Randy Gilbert, the Independence Party's Patrick Dean and the Grassroots Party's Judith Schwartzbacker.

(Copyright 2014 WDIO-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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