While State Auditor Rebecca Otto’s primary challenge from former Rep. Matt Entenza isn’t the DFL’s top priority, party phone lines across the state are humming in support of Otto.
The DFL is taking the challenge seriously, party chair Ken Martin said in an interview on Monday. One of Martin’s main concerns is reminding insurgent challengers like Entenza, who filed in early June at the last minute to face off against Otto, that the DFL endorsement counts for something. The 25 phone lines at DFL headquarters are buzzing with calls in support of Otto on weekdays, and Martin said activists across the state are making thousands of calls a day in support of her and other DFL-endorsed candidates.
“Our endorsement matters,” Martin said. He added that under his tenure as party chair, he’s tried to strengthen the party’s clout when it comes to endorsements. As an example, he pointed to now-US Rep. Rick Nolan, who secured the party endorsement in 2012 and ended up winning in the primary election that year to eventually face then-Rep. Chip Cravaack.
Martin said he expects Otto to win, but he quickly cautioned: “I’m not cocky about it. I think if we do our work and remind folks of Rebecca’s great record … she’ll prevail,” Martin said.
There’s also a clear amount of distrust and anger toward Entenza in the establishment DFL for challenging a sitting statewide candidate. Martin was careful in his words on Monday, saying Democrats in the Aug. 12 primary have the choice between “a known commodity who’s run and won statewide twice, versus someone who has run statewide twice and failed.”
Otto has the backing of a significant number of local DFL groups and caucuses, as well as the expected endorsements of major sitting lawmakers in the state. Entenza, meanwhile, was endorsed by US Rep. Keith Ellison and has also announced the support of a handful of unions.
Martin said the party will provide Otto with additional support — perhaps mailers, for example — ahead of the primary. Entenza and Otto are competing to face GOP endorsee Randy Gilbert in the fall.