Ventura gets boost from College Reform Party at U

Andrew Donohue

Donning a baseball cap and tennis shoes outside of Coffman Union on Wednesday, Reform Party gubernatorial candidate Jesse Ventura did not match the wardrobes of his usually slick-dressed competition.
Ventura’s physical appearance mirrors his campaign, as he seeks to provide the voters with a working man’s alternative to the career politician and the dominant two-party system.
By gaining strong voter popularity, he has sent the two-party system awry and changed the race for governor into a three-man steel cage match.
And while his trophy room might not include a college degree, Ventura has also gained support around the University, catching the eye of would-be republican or democratic voters with his improvised speeches and atypical political regalia.
For Ventura’s collegiate supporters, the task of choosing a governor is not totally issue-based.
Ventura’s youthful attitude and idealistic approach appeals to college students, said Eric Hanson, vice chairman of the College Reform Party and independent candidate for state Legislature in District 59B.
“He doesn’t really speak on the issues, but he is very socially liberal and ridiculously honest,” Hanson said. “His wrestling career endeared him into the hearts of people. If he hadn’t had such a colorful past, he wouldn’t be in the position he is right now.”
Of his issues, Ventura’s stance on financial aid has grabbed student attention.
He has proposed no higher education plan and he hasn’t shown overwhelming support for financial aid, although Ventura told students on Wednesday he doesn’t want to eliminate it.
But he stressed there are other options like loans, work and even military service as alternatives to pay for college, and it is the student’s responsibility to figure out a way to fund their own college education.
“I feel that if a student is smart enough to get into college, they should be smart enough to find a way to pay for it,” Ventura said.
To his supporters, Ventura also represents an alternative to the two-party system that plagues American politics.
By placing a legitimate stake in the race for governor, Ventura, like the Reform Party in general, has forced politicians to be more responsible, said Lori Marker, founding chair of the College Reform Party.
“If Jesse wasn’t getting 21 percent of the vote, they (Hubert H. “Skip” Humphrey III and Norm Coleman) wouldn’t have to talk about a lot of things they are talking about now,” Marker said.
The idea of an ex-professional wrestler in public office is not as new as the actual formation of a Reform Party in Minnesota.
Though Ventura served as mayor of Brooklyn Park from 1991 to 1995, the Reform Party was not ushered into Minnesota until June 1998.
At the University, the College Reform Party is also a new political entity, officially becoming part of the campus in July. Though it only takes three students and constitution to form the college party on a campus, founders struggled for eighteen months to forge the organization.
“In the past couple of years, we couldn’t get the three students together,” Marker said.
Currently, the group consists of less than 10 members.
“We are really making some headway,” Marker said. “People want to get involved, but they don’t have time, but that’s our society.”
Hanson, who was instrumental in the founding of the college party as well, also wanted to give students an option.
“As a college freshman, if you only see College Republicans and College Democrats, you are going to be an 18-year-old that only sees the world in two colors,” Hanson said.