State auditor race could be an intra-office battle

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An employee in the state auditor’s office says he’s running to replace his boss.

Jeff Wiita, a certified public accountant from Minnetonka, announced today that he’s seeking the Republican endorsement for state auditor. He wants to unseat incumbent Rebecca Otto, a DFLer who will likely seek her second term in 2010.

Wiita says Minnesota has never before elected a CPA as auditor. During a news conference, he compared it to electing an attorney general who is not a lawyer.

“I want to try to elevate the state auditor’s office to a professional level as a CPA, Wiita said.”

Wiita acknowledged that his challenge of Otto will be probably cause some awkwardness in the office during the coming months.

Here’s the audio from Witta’s news conference:

Otto was not immediately available for comment.

Otto said there have been many excellent, well-respected state auditors who were not CPAs. She says it’s up to the Legislature to address any changes in the job qualifications.

Otto also stopped short of confirming her plans to run for re-election.

“I haven’t officially announced yet, Otto said. “It’s a little bit early. But I will let you be the first to know when I do.”

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