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Ventura Complicates Minn. Senate Race

UPDATE 11:55 AM: Ventura is now denying, sort of, that he will run for Senate. He tells the Associated Press he was only speaking hypothetically when he told NPR why he would run for the seat. "I gave [the NPR reporter] the reasons why I would run. But I said ultimately, it will come down to whether I want to change my lifestyle and go to that lifestyle or not," Ventura said.

Of course, Ventura did tell NPR, "I run because it angers me," not "if I run, it will be because..." And he asked Minnesotans to decide which of the three candidates they'd want with them in a dark alley, though presumably he could ask voters that same question outside the context of a Senate race. Ventura says he will reveal his final decision -- the real one, not the hypothetical one -- by next Tuesday's filing deadline.

ORIGINAL POST: Minnesota's Senate race was already one of the most entertaining contests of the cycle, as Sen. Norm Coleman (R) attempted to win reelection against controversy-prone humorist Al Franken (D) in a state that is trending blue even as it prepares to host the GOP convention in September. Now the race has a new injection of star power, as former governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura plans to jump into the ring as an Independent.

Ventura, who had resisted past entreaties from the media to reveal his plans, said in an interview aired on National Public Radio this morning that he would run not as a publicity stunt but because of Coleman's votes in favor of going to war in Iraq.

"That's the reason I run, not to sell books," Ventura said. "I run because it angers me."

The former World Wrestling Federation star sounds ready for a fight. Literally.

"All you Minnesotans take a good hard look at all three of us. If you were in a dark alley, which one of the three of us would you want with you?" Ventura said.

Ventura's entry could spell trouble for both existing candidates, though it's not clear whether it would actually change the outcome. A poll conducted by SurveyUSA in June showed Coleman beating Franken 52-40 without Ventura in the race. With the former governor, the result was 41 percent for Coleman, 31 for Franken and 23 for Ventura.

But Ventura has shocked the political world before, winning the governor's race in 1998 over Coleman, then the mayor of St. Paul, and state Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III, when few expected him to succeed. "I think Ventura could well win," Laurence Jacobs, a University of Minnesota political scientist, told NPR.

By Ben Pershing  |  July 9, 2008; 10:44 AM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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Argh...g****** fool.

Posted by: Bob | July 9, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Good for Jesse Ventura as we need more and
more truly Independent Candidates for every
office from the White House and Congress and on down to the town dogcatcher. Since
this year all that the virtual Marxist
Socialist Democrat Liberal Party and the
Neo Con Nutcase Republicans found were a
pair of total fools to run for President,
and old fool John McCain and the biggest
fool of all, Obamafool Barack Obama. We need a new Third Party that will represent
all Americans not just minorites and the
rich and special interest groups. Dump both
Obama and McCain and Redo the primaries.

Posted by: Sandy5274 | July 9, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Could you reporters wait for facts before spouting off? I see articles all over about Mr. Ventura running, and he's not. Report FACTS please. Thank you.

Posted by: R. Empleos | July 9, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

R. Empleos,
Some facts for you.

Actually if you listen to the interview on NPR you will hear the Governor say that he is not running then he goes on to use verbage that sounds like he is running or at least very seriously considering it. Listen to the words and you will hear what I did. He also said that he would make a decision on or before tuesday as that is the deadline to file.

Posted by: Ryan Walsh | July 9, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Nick | July 9, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Al Franken is a loser.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

MN is just "trending" blue?!?

Walter Mondale. Hubert Humphrey. Paul Wellstone. Tim Walz. Amy Klobuchar. Minnesota has not voted for a Republican for president since 1972--longer than any other state. MN and WI have very deep social democratic and reformist traditions. They go at least as far back as the Populist and Progressive parties in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Coleman won on a fluke because Wellstone was killed 11 days before the election and the GOP exploited an unfortunate raw, unvetted, grief-soaked speech. After Mel Carnahan in 2000, they were prepared.

I don't see how Laurie can ask Norm to do the dishes when she lives in Los Angeles and he lives in MN and/or DC. His womanizing and alcoholism are well known--he's had to be dragged into cabs and sent home from his watering hole of choice in Eden Prairie. His fixed up teeth are as fake as his adopted state and party affiliation. The man is a hollow phony; as
Garrison Keillor said, like going to a great steakhouse and ordering a tuna sandwich.

Wellstone overcame greater deficits than Franken faces. Norm should be worried.

Posted by: Jon Morgan | July 9, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

YES!!! Ventura would do well. This is what we need in this country, both the Dem/Gop should be done away with and just have canidates just run for office, whoever gets the most votes wins. This 2 party system is too rigged.

Posted by: rflyer | July 9, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

While Jesse Ventura's politics may be more bombastic and seat of the pants than my taste, I applaud anyone with the courage to shake up the two party system. When normal checks and balances are out of whack, it's necessary that there be at least a third way.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Jesse is a true American, he is what this broken county needs.. fixing. Veterans unite! Vote Jesse!

Posted by: Rich | July 9, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Coleman has done nothing for Minnesota as a Senator, and did nothing good for St. Paul as mayor before that.

Franken is an idiot.

Ventura for the win.

Posted by: fedworker | July 9, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I live in Minnesota. Coleman will win this because Franken isn't a serious candidate.

Ventura's win in 1998 was a fluke and the reason he didn't run for re-election in 1992 is that he knew he'd have a lot of trouble getting re-elected. If Ventura were to get into the race this time, he'd have to explain not only his record in Minnesota, but also what he's been doing since he left office. He's not likely to want to do either. Ventura just likes getting his name in the paper. If this stunt doesn't work, look for Ventura to announce that he wants to be quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.

Nice job by poster Jon Morgan of retailing every canard against Coleman that is out there. Very efficient!

Posted by: Mr. D | July 9, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

"His womanizing and alcoholism are well known"

Hey, who brought Ted Kennedy into this conversation?

"Norm should be worried."

Yeah, because a mentally unhinged moonbat tax cheat who physically assaults people REALLY poses a serious threat in a Senate race.

Posted by: Crush Liberalism | July 9, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I've never been more embarrassed to live in Minnesota.

Posted by: Lori S. | July 9, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I live in Minnesota, and I can say I am disappointed looking at that senate seat. Norm Coleman has been an exceptionally poor senator, and it saddens me every time I see his name and it reminds me what an exceptional senator (Paul Wellstone) he replaced. Franken was about as poor a choice the Democrats could have put up. He may well be a very intelligent, politically savvy individual, but his past "career choices" really disqualifies him as a serious candidate. Venture, should he run, would be about as bad as Coleman is. He didn't do much of anything as governor, and carrying the label "independent" isn't enough to earn him votes.

As for Minnesota "leaning" blue, you really don't understand Minnesota politics. Anyone that thinks this is a battleground state is kidding themselves. The DFL has been and continues to be a political goliath here; it effectively eliminates the traditional Republican rural advantage. Pawlenty and Coleman are exceptions to the rule here, and to be honest I'm shocked they are in office. I wouldn't be surprised to see one or both ousted when their terms are up.

Posted by: Laughing | July 9, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Ventura needs to run. We need more people like him in the legislative branch. Lets put an end to the two party system.

Posted by: Mike | July 9, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Jesse Ventura Rocks! You Go Jesse! I bet
Ventura will win! So why not Jesse Ventura
for President on an Independent Third Party? Go Jesse!

Posted by: Sherry Kay | July 9, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

OK, everyone, please pay attention. While an independent candidate makes a political race more interesting and may even produce positive change, an independent like Ventura is BAD. We saw that here in Minnesota. Like many others, I got sucked into thinking a political shake-up would be good and voted for him. Big mistake. Big buffoon. He didn't help the state at all. His only positive legacy is that he got the ban on some fireworks lifted (I like fireworks).

Words that come to mind when I hear or see his name: pompous, arrogant, narcissist, blowhard, idiot, entertainer, self-absorbed, egotistical, ineffective, clown, Neanderthal, and many more.

I know it's fun to think about a different approach to politics, but in the case of Jesse, it was all fun and games until someone got hurt -- which was pretty much all of Minnesota.

Posted by: Rocky Palomino | July 9, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, Jesse, we ARE in a dark alley: A smart, hardworking guy like Coleman was tossed away by the DFL and adopted -- forcibly assigned to, really -- the GOP: an now all they have to offer us is a self-aggrandizing smart aleck like Franken.

Coleman's constituent services are unparalleled, but his willingness to wait around for some reward from the current administration has been disappointing. He could have done so much more if the DFL had the sense to allow a centrist on the platform. Franken has done nothing for Minnesota - but, since we're a mining state, he's back to dig for the gold of national attention that he craves.

Franken actually got so angry about being asked a question a second time that he got up during an interview and pounded a desk - ON CAMERA!

The DFL had other candidates available, but with two wimpy Metro mayors, they persuaded themselves that the Franken name recognition would stand in the stead of actual service or knowledge.

Run, Jesse, run -- Strap on your bandolier (if you can get it back from that prostitute you told us you traded it to) and make both Coleman and Franken treat this like a real contest.

Both the DFL and GOP need to be reformed in this state - but Ventura just buys them time for their status quo.

Where's a hero when you really need one....

Posted by: Somebody's Mother | July 9, 2008 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Really now, folks of Minnesota, look at who has the intelligence and integrity to represent you, and who will really carry the banner of Humphrey, Mondale, Wellstone. And get over your prudishness as to Al Franken's career as a comedian -- turn on the Daily Show and see how far the country has come. Al Franken is really your logical choice.

Posted by: mountainman | July 9, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Hell with a the senate. Why not for president. I hope he runs next election year for president. He is what a America needs. Not an over paid lair. Ron Paul 2008 or Jessie 2012.

Posted by: rob | July 9, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

So, mountainman, you want us to watch a comedy show to get our news and vote for a comedy writer for high office. My, out country has come a long way.

Posted by: Screwtape | July 9, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I'd rather be the only woman on a Greek freighter than have Jesse as a Senator.

There are only 2 things wrong with him, his style and his content.

Posted by: The Rodentman | July 9, 2008 2:54 PM | Report abuse

From The Onion's "Our Dumb World- Atlas of the Planet Earth"

The Bull$#!t States: Alaska, Hawaii, Minnesota.

"Minnesota- Land of 10,000 Retards

The pop-drinking, Hormel-eating, dontcha-know dumbf***s of Minnesota are too stupid to have any idea why they are the laughing stock of the entire country.

From 'Yah, sure' to 'You betcha, there', Minnesotans have not said one damn intelligent or discernible thing since their godforsaken state was founded in 1858.
After being told by Eastern explorers that they had an unusual number of lakes, intrepid Minnesotans started counting, got stuck at 99, and just skipped ahead to the highest number they'd ever heard of, 10,000."

Posted by: TeRRoRfiEd | July 9, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I think the good folks of Minnesota need to find out what his position is on illegal immigration and amnesty. Norm is Pro Amnesty for millions of illegal aliens. this is one of the most important issues this country will face. If the good folks of Minnesota don't want to be forces to assimilate to the South American culture you had better take a stand and stop supporting open border pro amnesty politicians! Think it wont happen to you? it's sweeping across America quicker than you think soon you be living in a state that resembles Mexifornia and then you will realize the price pay for your complacency. Here is a new video of the next POTUS saying that your children must learn Spanish! view it and weep America!

Posted by: Bulldogger | July 9, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Most politicians act like entertainers, so it seems only natural that entertainers try to become politicians. Pro wrestling is only slightly funnier than Franken's brand of humor. The sad part is that neither one would hardly be noticed in the circus known as the Senate. Although I would love to see Ventura get elected and then go a few rounds with Hillary in a wrestling ring set-up in the Capitol's statuary hall. It would be great. I think she could take him, but since pro wrestling is fixed, they would probably end up in a draw. It would be a great fundraiser to help balance the budget.

Posted by: Jimbo | July 9, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I am not a Jesse lover but lets get some facts straight...

For those of you who have said things like "He did not do anything while he was governor" I beg to differ. In fact he did everything (or tried very hard to) that he said he would during the campaign, like it or not. Let me list just a few:

1) Hiawatha Light Rail
2) Concealed handgun carry
3) Tax surplus rebates
4) License tab reform

I could go on even longer. The fact is he is one of the few elected officials I can remember (Wellstone is another) that did EXACTLY what he said he was going to do if he was elected. That is more than I can say for any current candidate.

Like I said, I am not a fan boy. I just believe that people are allowed to have their own opinions but they are not allowed to have their own facts.

Posted by: Patrick Rhone | July 9, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Jesse Ventura's secret to winning the governorship was responding honestly to questions. He is not afraid to say, "I don't know," if he doesn't have an answer.

Everybody seems to be focused on Iraq, this coming election. There are a boatload of issues and they need to be answered, either concisely or "I don't know." No more waffling.

Posted by: Steve M. | July 9, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I used to respect Ventura and I'm open to third party or independent candidates. However, once Ventura started flirting with ridiculous 9/11 conspiracies, I realized he was an idiot. He would be an embarrassment as a candidate, has little chance of winning and I hope he doesn't run.

Posted by: RealChoices | July 9, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Great! Two idiots running for Senate against Norm Coleman.

It is absolutely embarassing to live in Minnesota.

Posted by: merle | July 9, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

A guy who made a living wearing a feather boa wants to guard my back in a dark alley?, thanks.

Posted by: DFC102 | July 9, 2008 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Go For It Jesse Ventura! We need get rid of
our failed two party,worthless Liberal Idiot Democratic Party and Neo Con GOP
Party, by voting for Third Party Candidates. Go Jesse Go!

Posted by: Claudine 1000 | July 10, 2008 2:20 AM | Report abuse

As a Minnesotan, I remember Jesse's tenure as governor quite well. And, as a previous poster said, he did what he said he was going to do. The state didn't go to hell as budgets were slashed, like under our current governor, and there wasn't a bunch of whiny liberal waffling, either. Jesse has problems and positions people may disagree with, like anyone else.

Faced with six more years of Coleman, whose true colors we've seen for a long time now, and Franken, who is a decent candidate on the issues but will never be elected by the conservative rural voters in parts of this state, my money's on Jesse. He'd have my vote.

Posted by: Mel | July 10, 2008 3:35 AM | Report abuse

I voted for Jessie when he ran for Governor because he offered to cut through all of the political bs. He took credit for tax rebates that ultimately screwed our budget after 9/11 and the economy went in the tank. He opened the door for No New taxes Timmy along with very weak DFL candidates. He is an egocentric thin skinned loud mouth who could have transformed Minnesota politics. Instead he took his toys and went to Mexico only to show up when he needs his ego stroked. From the outside looking in Washington may think he will be a factor but in reality this is a two horse race.

Posted by: SI | July 10, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Remember Minnesota, when the heat was on Rep Tom Delay for all his criminal actions, Coleman went on C-Span standing next to Delay supporting Delay!! For over a 1/2 hr I watched as this U.S. Senator jumped from the Senate to the House to give his entire support to a member of the House of Representatives that should have been fired!! Totally unforgiving!! Tom Delay should be paying money back to America, instead he continues to take money from us every month and Norm completely SUPPORTED ALL OF TOM DELAY's illegal behavior!! Anybody is better for Minnesota than Coleman--vote Ventura, vote Franken, just do NOT VOTE FOR COLEMAN.

Posted by: Concerned In MN | July 13, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

And what exactly did this big ape accomplish as governor? Puhleese!

Posted by: Yuri Lipitzmeov | July 14, 2008 3:51 PM | Report abuse

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