With the July 15 filing deadline almost at hand, Minnesota’s maverick ex-gov Jesse Ventura is keeping mum about his plans. According to the Minnesota Independent, Ventura told his former press secretary John Wodele last week that it’s still “way too early” to make up his mind. (When he ran for governor, Ventura filed on the last possible day.) The Independence Party formally endorsed southern Minnesota farmer Stephen Williams as its candidate for Senate, but he would probably defer to Ventura, and would certainly be swamped in the September primary, if Jesse chooses to run.
Incumbent Norm Coleman is under increasing fire for renting an apartment from a Republican operative in DC, and for his occasional forgetfulness about paying even the $600/month rent. (A recently-filed ethics complaint says that “Few Americans have landlords who sometimes fail to cash their rent checks, ignore unpaid rent or accept furniture in lieu of rent.”) Jesse may have his own residency issues, with his current book saying he spends more than half the year at his Mexico digs. But he still owns a Minnesota home, so he’s eligible to run.
If he has residence issues in common with Coleman, Ventura has an entertainment career in common with DFL candidate Al Franken. During his single term as governor, he was criticized for the time he spent on non-gubernatorial enterprises, such as his World Wrestling Entertainment and XFL gigs.
The Minnesota Independent looked back on the Jesse years in Minnesota, and gave him a mixed review. While he surrounded himself with capable people, Ventura himself couldn’t play nice with either the legislature or the media, and was distracted by his entertainment career.
Could Jesse actually win a three-way senatorial contest? Most pundits say no, but that’s what they said ten years ago. The Minnesota Independent recalls:
A Star Tribune poll in September of that year, less than two months before the general election, put the Reform Party candidate’s support at a paltry 10 percent. Meanwhile Democrat Skip Humphrey was humming along at 49 percent, with Republican Norm Coleman garnering support from 29 percent of those surveyed.
But after humiliating his constantly bickering opponents in a series of debates, and galvanizing thousands of unlikely voters with a barnstorming tour of the state in the final days of the campaign, Ventura emerged with the most unlikely triumph in the history of Minnesota politics. The final tally: 37 percent for Ventura, 34 percent for Coleman, and 28 percent for Humphrey.
NYC’s Michael Bloomberg is coming to town to raise money for Ventura’s Independence Party. For the final word on whether Jesse will run—check the news after 5 p.m. on July 15.