Jesse Ventura says he’s not running for Senate

Jesse Ventura says he’s not running for Senate

Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 9:25 pm
By: AP

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura halted his political comeback before it began, using a national TV platform to announce that he won’t launch a third-party bid for the U.S. Senate “at this moment.” Even so, Ventura kept the door open a crack, saying things could always change before today’s 5 p.m. filing deadline. In his appearance on CNN’s “Larry King Live” Monday, the former pro wrestler called it an “agonizing decision” and said he thought he could have defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman and Democrat challenger Al Franken, the former “Saturday Night Live” personality. But Ventura went on to catalog a familiar list of grievances, saying he didn’t want to subject his family to what they feared would be attacks in the media if he runs “because nothing is off-limits today in the world of politics.” He also brought up his long-standing resentment toward the Minnesota media for what he perceived as unfair criticism of his outside sources of income when he was governor. After his CNN interview, Ventura walked out of a TV studio in downtown Minneapolis and teased a throng of local reporters, responding to shouted questions by noting how pleased he was with the recent performance of the Minnesota Twins. Ventura’s fame and occasionally outrageous behavior regularly brought national attention to the state but wore on the patience of many Minnesotans. For the past week, Minnesota’s political class waited to see if Ventura would really get back into the race — or if he was just enjoying a new chance to bask in the spotlight almost six years after he left the governor’s office after a single term. Coleman and Franken had initially dismissed Ventura’s interest in the race as an attempt to publicize his latest book, “Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me,” a quirky blend of personal memoir and political rant published this spring. But both candidates moderated their remarks more recently, admitting that a Ventura candidacy would have altered the race. Ventura proved that he still has a flair for effortlessly generating media attention, but a political scientist who’s followed his career said he might have found it harder than in his historic 1998 run, when he went from novelty candidate to governor of Minnesota. “We’re in a much more serious time than when he ran in 1998,” said Steve Frank, co-author of a book about Ventura. “I think there’d be some initial infatuation with Jesse, but as we get closer — especially with two decent candidates who are well-financed — I think it would be tougher.” In mostly national media interviews over the last week, Ventura ridiculed both of the Senate candidates. He said Franken’s 2005 move back to Minnesota — where he grew up but left after high school — was politically opportunistic. Ventura also condemned Coleman for his support of the Iraq war, of which he is a staunch critic, and has happily pointed out that he already beat Coleman once, in the 1998 governor’s race. Ventura, long a detractor of organized religion, said he wouldn’t file for the Senate by Tuesday’s state-mandated deadline “assuming that God doesn’t call.” For the last few years, Ventura has split his time between homes in Minnesota and in Baja California, Mexico. He said while he came close to running, his decision came down to “surfing vs. the Senate.” “And I found surfing to be much more honorable than the Senate,” Ventura said. Published in The Messenger 7.15.08

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