Former State Auditor Pat Anderson has tucked away her election loss, assumes new state appointment

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DOER Commissioner Pat Anderson

Pat Anderson has Gus in a bag in the garage.

Newly appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty as commissioner of the Department of Employee Relations (DOER), Anderson has tucked away her election loss as state auditor as neatly as she has stored the giant inflatable bulldog, Gus, that lorded over her campaign.

by T.W. Budig
ECM capitol reporter

Pat Anderson has Gus in a bag in the garage.

Newly appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty as commissioner of the Department of Employee Relations (DOER), Anderson has tucked away her election loss as state auditor as neatly as she has stored the giant inflatable bulldog, Gus, that lorded over her campaign.

“Anybody could have beaten me — absolutely anybody,” said Anderson, the one-term Republican state auditor who saw her office gobbled up in the Democratic romp last election.

Anderson, 40, express no bitterness.

“No, I absolutely do not take any of this personally,” said Anderson of her loss to Rebecca Otto. It was a nationalized election, she said. Voters were upset with Republicans in Washington — she doesn’t blame them, Anderson said.

Minnesotans stayed home

Minnesota Republicans were mad at their party and stayed home.

“If you’re going to lose, this is the way to lose,” said Anderson with a smile, speaking in the DOER commissioner office in St. Paul on Monday (Jan. 29). “It’s much easier to go when everybody you know is gone,” she said. Losing is not something Anderson is use to.

She spent eight years on the Eagan City Council, four years as Eagan mayor. And then the successful run for state auditor.

ImageGus, the inflatable bulldog mascot of her past campaign, takes the lead as she waves at constituents during Fourth of July Parade in Forest Lake last summer. (Photo by Cliff Buchan, Forest Lake Times)

A daughter expected to find her mom sitting on the edge of the bed eating ice cream after the defeat. It didn’t happen, said Anderson.

Indeed, on election night she wanted to concede early.

She knew she wasn’t going to win — that was plain watching the thumping Republican state lawmakers were taking — and so that was that, Anderson explained.

Political future uncertain

Anderson’s political future is uncertain.

“I haven’t really made any sort of life decisions,” she said of the possibility of future run for office.

In the meantime, Anderson is working to put herself out of a job.

In upcoming months DOER will be blended with other state agencies with idea of eventually abolishing the agency as a stand alone department.

While the restructuring will not necessarily result in fewer state employees, it will mean upper-level agency officials will be out of job. That’s including the commissioner, Anderson explained.

One immediate task for Anderson is negotiations with state employees — her first meeting with union officials was expected late this week. She expects things to go smoothly.

“I don’t expect it to be contentious unless the parties we’re negotiating with are completely unrealistic,” she said.

Stands by qualifications

Anderson rejects the depiction her appointment as the act of a friend looking out after a fallen fellow Republican. “Whether I was auditor or not beforehand, I’m absolutely qualified,” said Anderson. She’s a good manager, said Anderson.

And the auditor’s office is about the same size as DOER.

Anyway, so many Republicans lost last election her’s is hardly a unique case, she explained with a laugh.

Pawlenty in appointing Anderson said she had a record of keeping government accountable.

She’s the right person to make sure the transition goes the right way, Pawlenty said.

“It’s a good challenge for me,” said Anderson of her commissionership.

“I always need to have a challenge or I get bored,” said Anderson.

In the meantime Gus can be rented.

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