Wrestler steps into Reform Party ring

Chris Tierney, president of the College Reform Party at the University, saw a childhood hero announce his interest in running for Minnesota governor in 1998 at the Reform Party convention Saturday.
Jesse Ventura, a film actor, broadcaster and formerly a professional wrestler for 11 years, announced he may run for governor. And if he decides to run, he wants to run as the Reform Party’s candidate, he told about 65 people at Macalester College in St. Paul.
Ventura, who was mayor of Brooklyn Park from 1990 to 1994, didn’t announce his candidacy outright because certain restrictions may bar him from doing so. One stems from broadcasting regulations that would prohibit him from continuing his radio career while campaigning for governor.
“The Reform Party needs a candidate like Jesse ‘The Body,’ a kind of sensational, out-of-the-ordinary candidate,” said Tierney, a senior in the College of Liberal Arts. “It would give us the opportunity to get our name out.”
Tierney said getting the Reform Party’s name out, especially at the University, is very important.
“In the past, the Reform Party has been excluded from debates for basically anything at the U because they didn’t have an established student group,” Tierney said. “But now the Reform Party’s message will get out and it will persuade more people to vote for the Reform Party candidates.”
Tierney said he started the University chapter, which currently has only four members, to give students an outlet and a voice. He said the Reform Party is small enough right now to let students have a major impact on the party’s agenda.
“If enough students decided to get involved, they could take it over and get whatever they want done,” Tierney said.
Alan Shilepsky, Reform Party 5th U.S. Congressional District chairman, said he is excited to have a Reform Party presence on campus, but he said he is saddened by the lack of interest students have in politics.
But Tierney wants to make sure the University’s College Reform Party gets involved. Although the student organization at the University has a small membership, it has some big ideas for fall events. Tierney plans to ask Ventura to speak during Homecoming week, and he also wants to invite Ross Perot to speak on campus.
The student organization was also active at this weekend’s state convention, selling former U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy’s book,”Eugene J. McCarthy: Selected Poems,” to raise funds for the group.
McCarthy, who challenged Hubert H. Humphrey for the Democratic nomination in the 1968 presidential election and campaigned again for the nomination in 1992, also spoke at the convention. He said for the Reform Party to be successful, it should champion four issues:
ù Repeal the federal elections act, which McCarthy said makes it very difficult for third parties to develop. The act, which regulates campaign donations and similar matters, favors the two-party system and makes it more difficult for third parties to organize, he said.
ù Lobby to shorten the work day to six hours.
ù Work to solve the national debt before it is passed on to the next generation.
ù Break up the television networks, which rely on licensing from the government, and which also denied 1996 Reform Party presidential candidate Ross Perot access to the televised debates.
With that in mind, Tierney sees a future for himself in politics.
“I’m thinking of running for city council when I graduate … and depending on how that goes, maybe even further.”