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State Auditor Rebecca Otto on her farm.  (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

State Auditor Rebecca Otto on her property in Marine on St. Croix on Friday, January 8, 2016. (Pioneer Press: Jean Pieri)

Here’s why: All the available data strongly indicates that Otto will beat all the other contenders across state in the upcoming Governor’s race.


Democrats have two major problems to face in 2018 and beyond. First, how do we win elections? Second, how do we remain true to our progressive and liberal roots?


For Democrats, 2018 is a must-win election, and Minnesotans have a lot at stake. Will the state remain the shining star of the North, or will it go the way of Wisconsin, and sink into a Republican dark age of union busting, environment polluting, professor bashing, service slashing, and economic activity destruction?


Of all the candidates running or suspected of running for Governor in 2018, Rebecca Otto is the only one who can most clearly win and at the same time preserve and advance core, human based, Democratic ideals, in my opinion.


The smart move for the DFL in 2018 is to turn to a candidate that has won several times statewide and has strong name recognition, positive feeling among the voters engendered by her commitment to widely held values, and a strong base of support. State Auditor Rebecca Otto is the only candidate with that resumé. Otto has racked up several historic victories, including the largest upset of an incumbent in 112 years, and is positioned to do it again in 2018. Her statewide electoral prowess far outstrips her nearest competitor, Tim Walz, who is largely unknown outside of his first district, and is untested statewide. Beyond that, Otto stands for strong for Democratic values, while Walz has shown himself to be a DINO-style Democrat. Walz enjoys a very high rating from the NRA, for example, and in February of 2013 was one of only six Democrats in Congress to vote to expand gun sales to the severely mentally ill, over the objections of senior generals including David Petraeus, Michael Hayden and Stanley McChrystal.


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Otto Vote Had No Sulfide Mining Effect

by Grace Kelly on August 13, 2014 · 9 comments

Even though Matt Entenza never talked about the sulfide mining issue, there was a suggestion of sulfide mining advocates voting against Otto. Otto had recommended that sulfide mining companies put up the equivalent of rental deposit on the risk of harm to health and environment. The sulfide mining effect would show up in Congressional District 8. 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.


Steve Simon was having a name recognition problem against two perennial candidates, so he has lower numbers and more variation. Simon was considered safe although I must admit those numbers were closer than I felt comfortable with.


This table was generated with a 93% of the precincts counted.


otto analysis


What Otto Winning Over Entenza Really Means

by Grace Kelly on August 12, 2014 · 4 comments

Rebecca_Otto_Matt_Entenza.jpgBoth Rebecca Otto and Shawn Otto exemplify grace under pressure. Still under shock of an unexpected opponent, they rallied and organized an outpouring of support. Shawn personally ensured that every request of mine was fulfilled. Every one I know said the same. So every DFL event and parade became focused on persuading for Rebecca Otto. It also helped that Rebecca Otto had done great work, that was easily documented with awards and online-published papers.


DFLers responded strongly because Entenza threatened the whole DFL endorsement value.

I think Entenza thought he could run in the primary because of Mark Dayton. Entenza’s challenge was vastly different than Dayton’s challenge. Mark Dayton’s primary run had been clear when he entered the governor’s race because Mark Dayton had never been a person who flourished in endorsement politics. Yet Dayton was still a good election candidate. At every point, Dayton was clear and honest about his intentions, running against DFL opponents in a fair way. Entenza is great at insider politics, yet he snubbed insider politics. Entenza did not give notice. The way that Entenza made his case was not considered fair by DFL standards. Quite frankly, DFLers talk about the Entenza challenge in way one talks of a friend who unexpectedly changes on you.


So this race became about the people power of the DFL vs the money power of Entenza. In the dead of summer, in a race that normal media would not cover well, the DFL had to rally its votes. And they did. DFL endorsements are valuable and important.


Can Entenza Buy A DFL Race?

by Grace Kelly on August 5, 2014 · 1 comment

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 7.34.11 PMState Auditor is an executive services office that traditionally is seen as better if all the advice, rules and treatment are applied the same for every party and every person. Good management of money is a very high Democratic value. Our current state auditor, Rebecca Otto, has even asked for better financial practices on big current political projects.


Minnesota’s own League of Cities thinks Rebecca Otto’s work is excellent, giving her the President’s Award. Minnesota State Fire Chiefs gave her a “Golden Axe” Award for distinguished public service to the Minnesota firefighting community. Nationally, she was named one of the 15 most influential professionals in government auditing at any level by the Institute of Internal Auditors, the 180,000-member worldwide association of the auditing profession. Even I have used several of her reports in my articles. Otto is that good.


Here is the real craziness. Everything that Matt Entenza would want to stand for, he can do better outside of the state auditor’s office. In fact, it would be better for Entenza to be full time and not be a state auditor. Matt Entenza could even buy the Pioneer Press and have the ultimate speaking platform. Or buy a TV station. We do need a champion for all those great issues and I do wish Matt Entenza would do it.


In a total misfire of direction, Matt Entenza instead targets a excellent state auditor when he does not want to do auditing. Here is what the Otto campaign believes that Entenza has spent of his own money:


$227,000 on July 29
$15,000 on July 31
$125,000 on August 1
$622,000 as of August 1


Since all of our major media is now Republican owned, I truly want Entenza to buy a major media outlet instead.

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Matt Entenza Is Not An Out Stater

by gregladen on July 22, 2014 · 2 comments


This is a followup on my earlier post (see “How do you say “Surprise” in Norwegian? The word is “Entenza.” I am not making that up” also reposted here) on Matt Entenza’s bid for the DFL (Democratic Party) Primary candidacy for Minnesota State Auditor.


[Updated: Letter to the Editor, Worthington Daily Globe.]

Entenza claims he is from Greater Minnesota, and thus, would do a better job representing the interests of Greater Minnesotans. This implies that highly acclaimed sitting State Auditor and candidate for re-election Rebecca Otto is not doing well in this area. In fact, she is doing very well. She is recognized for her fair and non-partisan treatment of people and local governments across the state. The previous State Auditor used the position in a more political way, implying bias, and voters rejected that approach by the largest upset of an incumbent in 112 years when Otto was first elected. It is now well-understood, here and nationally, that Otto is doing it right.


This is similar to the misleading language Entenza is using on pensions and social security. "Too often these days, we hear stories about how folks who worked hard and played by the rules their whole lives have their retirement at risk by poorly managed pension funds and Wall Street middle-men that charge exorbitant fees. Privatization of pensions is unacceptable. Minnesotans’ pensions should not be privatized and that Wall-Street middle men have no business near our pension plans.” This, again, implies that Otto has somehow been involved in privatizing pensions. She has not. In fact, a review of Otto’s website shows that she has been leading the charge against the move to privatize public pensions, and that the Public Employee Retirement Association is stronger than ever on her watch.


A similar thing happened in a recent news article about Otto leading a national conference of State Auditors, bringing the State Auditors from around the country to Saint Paul. A few accounting firms that work with local governments were some of the conference sponsors. Entenza said of this, via his campaign mouthpiece, that "The people being regulated should not be paying for lavish events for those doing the regulating. Attending parties and events thrown by firms the auditor is supposed to be watchdogging is not how Matt Entenza will run the office.” Again, this is a blatant attempt to mislead voters. The State Auditor does not watchdog or regulate private CPA firms in any way, and there were no lavish events at the conference. In fact, the conference was part of required continuing education classes that help auditors keep up with the latest laws, regulations and trends. So here, Entenza would have readers believe that all State Auditors from around the country are somehow having a conflict of interest. Really? He says he wouldn’t attend such conferences if elected. How then, one wonders, would his staff be able to do their jobs?



Election Week: Democratic Visions

by JeffStrate on October 26, 2010 · 0 comments

As the political season enters its final laps, help our side out.  Should you detect any doubting voters within your social orbits, share the following link to Democratic Visions on YouTube.…

You – they – will find Jim Meffert, Tarryl Clark, Ron Case, Maria Ruud, Ray Daniels, Mark Ritchie, Kevin Staunton, Steve Elkins, Terri Bonoff, John Benson, Audrey Britton, Rebecca Otto and Mark Dayton at the top of their games.  

The pre-election day broadcast edition of Democratic Visions has only a few more runs before November 2nd.   The fully packed and paced program features Margaret Anderson Kelliher,  AM950’s Nancy Nelson (fully charged and luminous)  and MPP Blogger Two Putt Tommy Johnson (on overdrive) as well as cameos by Jim Meffert; all the DFL candidates in Senate District 41, 42 and 43 plus Stephen Wells of Eden Prairie who is running for a county-wide, elective office you’ve likely never heard of.  

Comcast Channel 15 – Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield and Eden Prairie Sundays at 9 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.

Bloomington Cable Channel 16 – on Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m., Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m.

Fram Fram,
Jeff Strate


So on Monday The Anderson for Auditor campaign started their “money bomb” effort to raise money to air ads. They even offered an incentive, every person who donated $20 would be entered in a drawing to win an 8 GB iPod Touch.

(click on the pic to see the full-sized version)

Sounds nifty huh? Unfortunately the whole contest was doubly illegal. But it looks like she figured it out now and is trying to erase the evidence of the misdeed.
Why doubly illegal? Well, in the State of Minnesota anyone running a raffle for commercial purposes has to do so without the requirement of buying something. That is why every ad featuring a way to win a prize has the teeny tiny print about how to mail in a 3×5 postcard to enter! Unfortunately there is no information on how to enter the contest without ponying up and calls to her campaign office were fruitless since no one seemed to be answering the phone yesterday.

Now, this does not apply to nonprofits running raffles as fundraisers. However, the MN Gaming law specifically excludes political campaigns or organizations from doing so. How specifically? This specifically:

Minnesota Statutes, chapter 349.12, subdivision 25(b) restricts gambling funds from being spent for:

” (1) the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of a candidate for public office or
for the purpose of promoting or defeating a ballot question; or
(2) any activity intended to influence an election or a governmental decision-making

Pretty darned specific, huh?

Of course after the Anderson campaign was reminded that they were out of compliance with the law (odd, that someone who is running for an office that is supposed to enforce compliance can’t seem to do so herself)they did change their website to remove the evidence of their journey into the seedy underworld of illegal gambling. (last part there was humor people)

(click on the pic to see the full-sized version)

Of course the people who donated with the expectation of possibly winning the iPod might be upset when they find out there is no prize. Will the campaign be refunding all the “donations” made previous to the terms of the contest being changed? Or will they break the law even more  and draw a winner from those people?

Remember people, this woman wants to be the person to make sure others don’t break the law … like she does.  


Triage time, other Minnesota races

by Eric Ferguson on October 18, 2010 · 1 comment

UPDATE: Guess I was writing this too close to bedtime, but I left off what is likely the most contentious bit. Time to ignore Tim Pawlenty.

This is a follow up to my recent diary where I wrote about this being triage time, and we can’t keep chewing the political catnip. I used the Walz/Demmer race as an example, but let’s look at the other races in Minnesota and figure out where our limited blogging time ought to go. I’m going to take a look at the statewide and congressional races. I’m not looking into legislative races only because I don’t feel I know which ones are close enough to warrant our attention. That doesn’t mean they don’t matter. Quite the contrary, the legislators elected this year will decide redistricting, and whether we have draconian budget cuts or upper income tax increases, so I hope people more knowledgeable on close races will chime in. Just keep your eye on the calendar, because there are just two weeks until election day.
Just to avoid a point of potential confusion, this whole line of thinking would seem to be in conflict with the ground-game sorts of campaigning I’ve written about, where I’m helping some candidates despite their near certainty of winning. It’s not actually a conflict, because there’s a big difference in terms of goals and audiences between the ground game and partisan media, like blogs and talk radio.

What we do here is reach out to the base with information and try to push stories and narratives into the mainstream media. Long term we want to make progress on issues, and push back on attacks from the right while going after the other side’s craziness or corruption. Short term however, the less time before election day, the less valuable it is to spend limited time or column-inches as the case may be on candidates who can’t win or can’t lose.

Direct voter contact doesn’t clash, and helping safe candidates is still valuable. We’re trying to reach one person at a time, usually someone not so engaged as to be reading political blogs, and find out what issues matter to them, what it will take to convince that individual to vote, and vote for our candidates. The person who can be persuaded to turn out for a safe candidate, or a hopeless candidate for that matter, is likely to vote for DFLers in close races. So if someone doesn’t like Mark Dayton, but has a strongly positive reaction to Keith Ellison — which I have run into a Minneapolis — I have no hesitation in asking them to turn out for the safe Ellison, figuring they’ll likely vote for the candidates in tight races. Besides, long term, campaigning seriously in a safe seat is likely to tell voters their votes are being requested instead of taken for granted and thereby keep the seat safe, and maybe, we add one more person to the base.

Right now, however, I’m addressing this to people who are already engaged, and we need to focus our limited blogging time. So while I will continue to canvass for my safe state legislators, I’m not giving their opponents even a moment of my blogging time.

So here’s how I prioritize this year’s races. Feel free to disagree, please chime in down in the comments, because we need to get this right.

Statewide races:
Governor: Can I assume no controversy if I say the gubernatorial race comes first? That’s probably obvious to anyone who isn’t new to Minnesota. Briefly, just in case this is being read by someone who is new, the reason you see a lot about this race in our diaries is there hasn’t been a DFL governor since Perpich lost in 1990. Most DFLers feel a state that used to be near the top in almost everything where being near the top is good, like per capita income, education, transportation, etc., has deteriorated into mediocrity. Moreover, Mark Dayton has a serious chance to win.

Secretary of State: Secretary of State Mark Ritchie is probably the DFLer Republicans hate most after Al Franken, except perhaps for Keith Ellison — and that was before they accused him of stealing the Senate election. We know from Florida 2000, Ohio 2004, and the year of the recount (there were I think four more besides Franken/Coleman) what a difference it makes to have a secretary of state who wants help voters vote, or wants to pursue partisan goals by preventing voting by people with the wrong skin tone. I consider this office the second most important statewide office in general. There’s no polling on the constitutional offices, so with the Republicans appearing to match DFL enthusiasm this year, I assume this race is in doubt. That’s why I devoted a “Fun with debunking the right” to this race, and I try to push back on the photo ID issue.

State Auditor: Rebecca Otto seems to have the most serious challenger this year. Otto defeated incumbent Pat Anderson in 2006, and Anderson is running again. Otto made the case Anderson wasn’t a terribly good auditor, but Anderson at least can claim the right resume. I sensed an aspect of grudge match in their forums. If I had to guess — and my point is that with two weeks left, I do have to guess — I would guess Otto has the closest race of the constitutional offices.

Attorney General: This has been the invisible race. I haven’t searched out a candidate forum, but with other races, I haven’t had to. Considering Chris Barden had a close primary against Sharon Anderson, even though it was the only contest for which Republicans asked their voters to stay in their own primary, I’m guessing even Republicans don’t know who he is. Either that, or they ignored the party’s request and crossed over to vote in our primary. My guess is Swanson will win handily, which is good since she drew the crazy opponent. Anderson, Dan Severson, and even Tom Emmer aren’t crazy, just dogmatic. Barden is the one with the questionable contact with reality, believing that illegal aliens are voting through vouching, and he calls Swanson “pro-ACORN” on his web site home page, even though ACORN doesn’t exist anymore.

CD1: The Walz/Demmer race is probably the closest congressional race this year. It’s the only one besides the 6th to attract outside polling, and Walz had a small lead. He’s had to run negative ads, and Republicans have been putting cash into helping Demmer. I rank this race our top priority among congressional races.

CD2: John Kline is a conservative in a conservative district in a conservative year. Shelly Madore has gotten no press that I’m aware of. I wouldn’t tell anyone in the 2nd not to campaign for her, because every voter you can turn out helps the winnable races, and builds up the database of identified DFLers. In blogging terms however, this race is done.

CD3: I’ve heard of no polling, but Erik Paulsen’s ads have all been attacks on Jim Meffert, complaining about Meffert’s ads, despite Meffert having been unable to get on TV. Perhaps Paulsen has an internal poll showing a close race? CD3 is one of those rare districts that voted for Obama but GOP for House. This ought to be a competitive district, and though no analyst has listed this as a competitive race, Paulsen’s ads make me wonder. This is perhaps our second priority.

CD4: This seems to be the quietest race other than CD2. I’ve heard of no polling for the McCollum/Collett race. It’s a heavily DFL district. My guess is this one is over though again, if you live in CD4, don’t let that deter you from turning out voters for Betty McCollum, for the sake of the rest of the ballot.

CD5: I strongly support Keith Ellison. I know him, I like him, I will come to his defense if he’s attacked — any other time. Unless an attack could cause long term damage, I’m going to fight the temptation to punch back. This race is over.

CD6: I can read the polls and realize Clark’s chances aren’t good. She is however close enough to keep trying. A Bachmann win is basically just a conservative winning a conservative district, but beating Bachmann would be a big blow to the paranoid right. Only the nuttiness makes this race competitive. Bill Prendergast is right: while there’s a chance in this race, we have to try. It’s an arguable second priority with Meffert/Paulsen.

CD7: Colin Peterson recently released an internal poll that showed him way ahead. This was presumably to counter the idea his seat is in doubt. The 7th leans GOP, and would favor a Republican for an open seat — but it’s not open. This race is over.

CD8: Chip Cravaack claimed an internal poll showed him just 3% behind Jim Oberstar, but unlike Peterson, he released no details, which seems strange if you’re so sure about the poll. He got his press attention though. He has some decent funding, and anecdotally he has lots of volunteers and signs. We know the 8th was extended into the Twin Cities exurbs in the last redistricting, which is where most of the state’s growth has been. The exurbs are the GOP base, thus why the 6th and 2nd are so conservative. If this seat was open, it would be purple. I personally rank this race fourth priority, but I see a reasonable argument for ranking it higher. Cravaack has so far gone unscrutinized, so far as I know, but if anything had reached the mainstream press I would think I would have heard.

There’s one person I left out, who deserves none of our attention: Tim Pawlenty. That’s a tough habit for a lefty blogger to break, but one thing stands out: he’s not running for anything. After election day, since he’s likely to declare for president in the next few months, then it will be important for us to have information on him at hand when the national media are ready. This is what Alaska bloggers did when the national media hadn’t even heard of Sarah Palin until she was nominated for VP. So November 3rd, get the facts. Until then, he doesn’t matter.

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