Vote Pam Myhra for Minnesota State Auditor
State Auditor is the single statewide office left where I’m willing to vote for candidates from either party—and, in my two auditor elections so far, I’ve done just that. I’ve voted for our current auditor of 11 years’ standing, Rebecca Otto, a Democrat. I’ve also voted, in a different election, for one of her Republican challengers.
After all, it’s not really a partisan job. The auditor’s duty is oversight, investigation, and reporting. She doesn’t set the agenda or the rules; she makes sure the letter and spirit of the law are being followed and that the taxpayer’s dollar actually goes where the taxpayers’ representatives send it.
So, when I’m looking at an Auditor candidate, I don’t ask, “So, what’s your stance on illegal immigration, gun control, and the plowing in Saint Paul?” That’s not the auditor’s job. I first ask about her qualifications. I then ask whether she’s going to run the auditor’s office fairly and impartially. (With the way the offices of Attorney General and Secretary of State have been politicized in this and otherstates over the years, it’s clear even the non-partisan offices are at risk and must be vigilantly protected.)
In 2018, we’re faced with an easy choice for auditor. The Republicans have nominated Pam Myhra, who is a Certified Public Accountant. The Democrats have nominated Julie Blaha, who is a math teacher.
Ms. Myhra worked in the 1980s as an international audit manager at KPMG, one of the “Big Four” global audit firms, and she recently served two terms in the state legislature. During her time in St. Paul, Myhra was a chief author on bipartisan legislation (which passed unanimously) that modestly expanded government transparency—precisely what she’d be ensuring as auditor. Ms. Blaha, for her part, has served in a variety of positions with various Minnesota unions. What experience does she have in finance? Her campaign cites her service as union treasurer and her work as a 6th-grade math teacher.
Ms. Myhra enjoys the support of Rudy Boschwitz (the notoriously moderate “Independent-Republican” senator from back in the 90s) and the political arm of the Minnesota Society of CPAs—a non-partisan organization which probably knows what it’s talking about. Ms. Blaha is endorsed by her own union and by EMILY’s List, a PAC dedicated to expanding access to abortion—although what interest an abortion-rights PAC would have in a race for a politically neutral and impartial office is not at all clear.
Except, well, even a brief glance at Ms. Blaha’s Endorsements page makes it clear she has no intention of exercising her office in a neutral and impartial way. Her supporters explicitly talk about how she intends to use the office to advance particular “values,” to be an “ally,” and to advance “social justice.” She proudly lists endorsements from several other special interest groups relating to abortion, LGBT rights, and gun violence. What Ms. Blaha means by these things may be good or bad—I’m not here to tell you how to think about the culture war—but advancing or opposing special interests (and even social justice) is emphatically not the role of the State Auditor. I’d say the same thing if I came across a state auditor candidate who vowed to be an advocate for the American flag, liberty, and the unborn while touting an endorsement from the NRA. Great, it’s a free country… but, if you want to do politics, run for a political office; don’t politicize the auditor’s.
Ms. Myhra’s website, by contrast, has only a news archive, which is full of eye-glazingly boring (even for me) blurbs about accounting controls, obscure finance court cases, and… well, audits. Her site talks about the job, and convincingly argues that she’d be good at it.
Finally, I picked up campaign lit at Blaha’s booth at the State Fair and had a nice chat with her on-duty booth person… then got a really nasty cold the following weekend. My wife didn’t get the same cold, and we were together all day, except at the political booths I visited. So it was either Julie Blaha or Doug Wardlow’s people who gave me my bad cold. Bear this in mind to the extent it deserves to be borne in mind! (i.e. not at all)
Seriously, though, folks, I’m under no illusions about the likelihood that Republicans are going to get drilled this year in Minnesota. Our state is founder and chairman of Minnesota Nice, Inc., but the GOP is in power and has embraced an element that is decidedly Not Nice. Now even the mainstream GOP will pay the piper. I’m not going to try to argue you out of that. In fact, I’m not even planning to vote to re-elect my own Republican representative to Congress, Jason Lewis. (I’ll probably write about that later.)
But, whether you’re Republican or Democrat, whether Tim Walz or Jeff Johnson is the next governor of Minnesota (and, folks, it’s gonna be Walz), I think you should vote for Pam Myhra for State Auditor. Kudos to Ms. Blaha for stepping forward as a first-time candidate—our country needs more citizens willing to run for office—but this is an office that’s about qualifications. One candidate appears to be qualified; the other far less so.
…and this apparently annoyed me enough to write an 1000-word blog post about the second-most boring elected office in Minnesota.*
P.S. The libertarian candidate is more ideologically my speed, and he has the catchiest motto in the race (“Tick Tock / Time For Dock”), but he suffers the same defects as Blaha: he’s inexperienced and ideological. The Legalize Marijuana Now Party’s candidate is nuts, as expected. So vote Myhra.
P.P.S. The state auditor’s race does not typically get a lot of coverage, so if I receive responses to this post from either campaign, I will post the response, in full, here on the blog.