Jesse Ventura may again climb into the political ring
Jesse Ventura, the former pro wrestler and sometime-actor who improbably won the governorship of Minnesota a decade ago, may again roil his state's political waters. Then again, he may not.
Ventura has been hinting for months that he might make an already closely watched Senate race between Republican incumbent Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken a three-way affair; back in May, he told Larry King on CNN, "I'm weighing it right now."
He's still weighing it as Tuesday's deadline for filing approaches; indeed, he's talking about it more than ever, leading to speculation he'll take the leap.
Our friend Ted Johnson, who writes the "Wilshire & Washington" column for Variety, recently interviewed Ventura and wrote that "he sounded like a candidate, ready to needle his opponents at every turn. He mapped out a renegade campaign strategy in which he would raise money on the Internet yet not spend more than $1 million for his bid."
Johnson quoted Ventura as saying: "I will not spend more than I earn, and that gives me I think a million dollar cap, because the salary for a senator is $170,000" a year.
We were initially confused by Ventura's math, but he's apparently referring to what he would gross over a six-year term.
The buzz surrounding Ventura grew very loud today, following the broadcast on NPR of an interview he gave David Welna Sunday in a parking lot in Minnesota. He again talked as if he had decided to run, and even offered what presumably would be one of his main messages: "All you Minnesotans take a good hard look at all three of us. And you decide: If you were in a dark alley, which one of the three of us would you want with you?"
Ventura quickly clarified that his remarks were hypothetical, and that he'll continue to weigh his options until the filing deadline. "It will come down to whether I want to change my lifestyle and go to that lifestyle or not," he said.
The prospect of another political season enlivened by a Ventura candidacy geneerated much comment, including this post on The Swamp.
As we recently noted, current polling indicates Franken -- of "Saturday Night Live" fame -- would fall short in his bid to unseat Coleman. Who knows how Ventura would scramble the dynamics; his political persona is so idiosyncratic it seems, at first blush, hard to predict.
And this might be even harder to divine -- were he to run and win, would he bother to caucus with either party on Capitol Hill?
-- Don Frederick