DFLers vie for party’s nod in state auditor primary

by Libby George

If Gregory Gray wins the race for state auditor he will become the first black elected to statewide office in Minnesota.

Dubbed “the one to watch” by The Associated Press, Gray must first defeat two other candidates in the DFL primary.

Challenging Gray are current State Treasurer Carol Johnson, whose position is being eliminated after this year, and transportation department employee Gregg Iverson, who has unsuccessfully run for public office eight times.

Despite backgrounds varying from former attorney to retired school teacher, all candidates argue they have the edge in experience.

“I have far more experience than either of them,” Johnson said. “I have sat on the same boards as auditors in the past, and I have experience in every part of the auditor system,” she said.

Gray, a state representative from Minneapolis, is the only candidate with auditing experience.

“I’ve done audits before and they haven’t,” Gray said. “I have 10 years experience auditing, 12 years experience as an attorney and two years as a representative,” he said.

Gray said his auditing and legal experience is “unprecedented” in a candidate for the state auditor position.

Iverson was unavailable for comment but has previously told reporters that his status as a Vietnam and Korean wars veteran gives him an advantage over his competitors.

All the candidates have said they are satisfied with the work of current Democrat auditor Judi Dutcher but each would make changes.

In his filing statement Iverson said he will save taxpayer money by carefully reviewing public funds.

Johnson said as auditor she would streamline the system and ensure audits are available online for review.

“I would strengthen the relationship between the auditor and the state departments,” Gray said. He said in light of recent auditing scandals, he would randomly review the audits of state agencies conducted by private firms.

Gray, the DFL-endorsed candidate, is also supported by former auditor and current U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., and Dutcher, but Johnson does not think this will affect her chances.

“The endorsement process is just fine, but it shouldn’t be the last word on elections,” Johnson said. “The responses we are getting back are positive, and I am very optimistic.”

The state auditor oversees approximately $17 billion in annual spending by more than 4,300 local government bodies.

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