Both 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.
The most common DFL comment was “What was Entenza thinking?” The most common theory is that Entenza thought he needed a current office as a platform to run for the governor’s race. That isn’t true. Entenza already has a long credible political history. Instead of running against the DFL, he could have led a non-profit or an independent campaign that promotes a DFL issue like “DFLers run government better”. Entenza still could do that.
There is an incredible amount of evidence that Democrats are doing a much better job at running government than Republicans. However since major media is Republican owned, this information is deliberately kept away from the public. Imagine if that same number of Entenza ads had been building the DFL brand instead of attacking a respected DFL candidate. Entenza would have naturally been perceived as a leader.
Rebecca Otto as the state auditor had requested that companies doing business in Minnesota provide a financial deposit like a rental deposit to prove their financial reliability. The fact that sulfide-mining proponents perceived this as a threat means that those same proponents believed that these companies are planning on leaving Minnesota with a costly clean up, dangerous to health. Insurance for asteroids dropping on one’s house is very cheap because it is very rare. Insurance is expensive when it is the expected outcome. Entenza entered in on this issue on wrong side. His environmentally green branding is now tarnished. Green folks are ones in politics who look at evidence and remember the past.
Matt Entenza’s general credibility took a hit too. It is not good to have both a campaign board and MPR call one’s statements misleading or false. Now he has a track record that can be triggered with a marketing effort as simple as “There he goes again”. Even had he won as auditor, this kind of reputation would have hurt his ability to be effective.
DFLers like to support smart effective candidates. Mark Dayton proved himself to be very smart and effective. He won the hearts of DFLers by proving the “tax the rich” for the same effective percentage was a issue that could be won. It is the kind of thing where DFLers want to be proven wrong. In contrast, what messaging was Entenza doing – save pensions?
As a long time political observer, I still remember some brilliant floor campaigns that Entenza led. So I am still wondering “What was Entenza thinking?”. At the end of this day, I have only one explanation. Matt Entenza was not seen at the events I attended. There was a general lack of personal presence through out the campaign. That still makes me wonder if this whole campaign was an impulse buy that only a rich person could do.