Rowdy auditor race, GOP intrigue highlight MN primary

Minnesota politicsPrimary election polls in Minnesota are open and will remain so until 8 p.m. tonight. I wrote about the election last Sunday, although in a fairly obtuse, Mark Twain sort of way.

I’m on the road right now and won’t be able to provide much in the way of live blogging tonight. Rest assured, I’ll be on the job for the general election in November. There aren’t many northern MN races to follow tonight, though it will be moderately interesting to see how the expensive, contentious DFL state auditor’s race plays out in Northern Minnesota.

Much has been said about the vast amount of campaign cash spent by former State. Rep. Matt Entenza, most of it self-funded, to challenge State Auditor Rebecca Otto in the DFL primary. As a voter in a little backwoods township in Itasca County, I lost count on how many mailers Entenza sent our household. I got one almost every day this past month. Otto and the DFL have sent mailers, too.

Entenza is banking on people not giving a rip about the DFL endorsement or Otto’s incumbency and being swayed by his intense campaigning. He’s also hoping to take advantage of anti-Otto sentiment in parts of the Eighth Congressional District over the issue of mining. This past weekend I heard radio ads in which Entenza was clearly trying to exploit Otto’s vote against mineral leases for mining projects to win Iron Range votes. I’ve argued there aren’t as many votes down this rabbit hole as people think, but there are some. I still think Otto pulls this out, possibly by a lot, but there’s a lot of unknown dark energy in this one; so we’ll see.

State Rep. Carly Melin (DFL-Hibbing) drew a primary challenge from John Finken, one of the leaders of a group of retired miners affected by National Steel’s bankruptcy and default on pensions a decade ago. Melin has the full support of the DFL and labor unions, though, and Finken is primarily focused on the pension issue, which was a real travesty for the workers involved, but has reached a legal conclusion. It will be interesting to see if Melin has her bases covered in the Itasca County portion of her new post-census district, where Finken is from, but she’s not in real danger here.

For Republicans, the big race is for governor. Four credible candidates are vying for the party’s nomination to challenge Gov Mark Dayton. The endorsed candidate, Jeff Johnson, appears to be the favorite. One wonders if he’d be sitting in that same position facing one or two challengers instead of three. In any event, Reps. Marty Seifert and Kurt Zellers and businessman Scott Honour  hope to overtake Johnson.

GOP-endorsed Senate candidate Mike McFadden also has a primary challenge from Rep. Jim Abeler. Though Abeler is a deep long shot, he’s got an interesting grassroots vibe. This one might show if GOPers have any buyers’ remorse on McFadden.

Check your local listings, as you’ll see county races on your ballot as well. I’ll have a follow-up post tomorrow after I see the numbers come in tonight.


  1. With the amount of money Scott Honour has raised (or self funded) and the lack of advertisements out there for him, he’s either completely wasting his money or will rewrite the book on how to run a campaign. On the DFL side, I’ve seen a ton of ads for Rebecca Otto on TV (and a few for Entenza). Democrats can’t be too happy that they have to waste money on a primary for state auditor.

    My predictions are as follows:

    Republican Governor: 1. Marty Siefert 32% 2. Jeff Johnson 29% 3. Scott Honour 20% 4. Kurt Zellers 15% 5. Other 4%.

    DFL Auditor: 1. Rebecca Otto 58% 2. Matt Entenza 42%.

    The only other race that could be interesting is the Republican race for Attorney General. While Scott Newman is the endorsed and only actual attorney in the race, perennial candidate Sharon Anderson (not even an attorney) actually won this primary back many years ago. Only a small percentage of people know who these candidates are and many will just vote for the one with a Scandanavian sounding name. I predict Newman will prevail, but it’ll be something like 55%-45%.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.