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Minnesota DFL green caucus endorses Otto for governor

State Auditor Rebecca Otto

ST. PAUL—The Minnesota DFL Environmental Caucus said Tuesday that they have endorsed State Auditor Rebecca Otto in the crowded race for the 2018 DFL gubernatorial endorsement.

The caucus is made up of about 400 members from across the state who are trying to promote an environmental protection agenda among the state's Democrats.

The caucus, which has been around about four years, made headlines in 2016 during the state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party convention when it succeeded in advancing an anti-copper mining item in the party platform. That item was later removed after pro-mining Iron Range residents and DFL U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan intervened. An intra-party committee on the issue failed to resolve the dispute, which continues to deeply divide DFLers.

"Rebecca Otto is a powerful voice for the environment and for a better Minnesota economy," said Veda Kanitz, chairwoman of the DFL Environmental Caucus. "We wholeheartedly endorse her candidacy for governor of Minnesota."

Otto in September announced her plan to impose a carbon fee, or tax, on emitters of the greenhouse gas that scientists say is causing climate change — the first candidate for governor to address the issue. She said she'd use the money raised to promote clean energy and help people pay potentially higher energy bills when cheaper coal was eliminated.

"Otto's visionary Minnesota Powered Plan provides a clear pathway to address climate change, create good-paying jobs in communities across the state, and make Minnesota a leader in clean energy technologies," Kanitz said.

Otto is running in a crowded field for the DFL nomination to replace Gov. Mark Dayton, who has said he will not seek a third term in 2018. Other DFLers running include U.S. Rep. Tim Walz of Mankato, state Rep. Erin Murphy of St. Paul, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Rochester state Rep. Tina Liebling and former House Speaker Paul Thissen of Minneapolis. Party officials will endorse a candidate at their convention in Rochester in June, but an August primary is likely. A dozen Republicans also are said to be considering a run for governor.