Otto bags Arne's endorsement

The DFL candidate for Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto picked up a significant endorsement today from former two-term Republican Governor Arne Carlson.

Carlson's support is meaningful not only because he crossed party lines in opposing the candidacy of Republican incumbent Patricia Anderson, but because Carlson himself was State Auditor before getting elected Governor. Furthermore, according to the press release issued today by the Otto campaign, a primary factor in Carlson's decision was the overt politicization of the Auditor's office under Republican control. Otto cited two examples. One was Anderson's report recommending deep cuts in local government aid one month after taking office in early 2003, a sentiment in synch with then-newly elected Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty's call to balance the multi-billion dollar state budget deficit without raising taxes. The result was huge local property tax hikes coupled with cuts to services.

The second example of partisanship claimed by Otto involves Anderson's ongoing employment of the Secretary-Treasurer of the Republican Party, Tony Sutton, as the Deputy State Auditor in her office. (Both organizations are housed in the same building.) "I think that independence has been lost," Carlson says in the Otto release about the auditor's position under Anderson. "Rebecca Otto is a very very good person, and I think she's exactly the kind of person we need in that job."

Using down-ballot constitutional offices to play partisan politics is also the theme taken up by retired Hennepin County Auditor and Treasurer Patrick O'Connor in a letter sent to City Pages yesterday. Just as Arne Carlson has chosen to back Rebecca Otto due to what he regards as the politicization of the State Auditor's office under Patricia Anderson, O'Connor has thrown his support behind DFL Secretary of State candidate Mark Ritchie due to what he feels are the heavy-handed politics of Republican incumbent Mary Kiffmeyer.

"Because one of the most important duties of this [Secretary of State] office include overseeing elections in Minnesota, it is vitally imnportant that this office be insulated and protected from partisan politics," O'Connor writes. "Unfortunately, for the past eight years, we have had a secretary who is not only a very poor administrator, but one who has put partisan politics above good election administration. I know, because as County Auditor and chief county election official for quite a number of years, partisanship and poor administration in the Office of the Secretary of State has been very frustrating not only for myself but for nearly every other County Auditor in the state...This frustration has led me to strongly back Mark Ritchie as our next Secretary of State."

O'Connor added that voters shouldn't necessarily take his endorsement as gospel. "I encourage you to contact your County Auditor or local elections official and seek their recommendation for this very important election."

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