Ventura leads new party convention

Peter Johnson

In his opening remarks to the Minnesota Independence Party, Gov. Jesse Ventura called Saturday’s convention, “the horizon of what I think will be a terrific election in the fall.”
The convention, drawing more than 200 party members, marked the Independence Party’s first convention since breaking away from the Reform Party USA last March.
The Independence Party is attempting to solidify a third-party political influence by running campaigns for both local and national legislative seats.
“Eventually, Minnesota is going to lead the way of the third-party movement, or what I consider the centrist movement, across America,” Ventura said.
Ventura, whose remarks opened the convention, is the party’s highest elected official. He spoke about his plans for a unicameral Legislature, the high price of gasoline and the importance of patience and perseverance in building the party.
The convention’s focus was to determine official endorsements in upcoming legislative races.
Three candidates were nominated for party endorsement in the senatorial race: James Gibson of Edina, a software developer; Leslie Davis of Minneapolis, a prominent environmentalist; and Buford Johnson of Baxter, former vice-chairman of the Reform Party Minnesota.
After Johnson withdrew his nomination, the party chose to endorse Gibson, who received 141 votes, or approximately 72 percent. Davis received 35 votes, or 18 percent, and Johnson had 18 votes, roughly 10 percent.
The party also endorsed Pam Ellison for U.S. Congress and many state representatives, including Lionel Sullivan in District 56, Lance Bennett in 23B, Mary O’Connor in 47B, Robert Anderson in 61B, Denn Evans in 60B, Ron Lischeid in 63A and Don Walker in 18B. In addition, PJ Richards was endorsed in Senate district 18 and Daryl Paulsen for South St. Paul City Council.
Gibson, who has been actively seeking party endorsement for a year, is campaigning on the theme of intergenerational justice.
The platform will work to pay the national debt, keep social security solvent, promote campaign finance reform and foster “fairness and justice among generations,” said campaign manager Neal Levine. Gibson is also pro-choice and favors the legalization of marijuana.
“Jim is a very forward-thinking individual. He’s not going to come out with election-year bunk … He’s concerned about where we’re going to be when college kids are the new middle class,” Levine said.
Gibson faces an uphill battle, challenging incumbent Sen. Rod Grams, R-Minn., and a DFL candidate, but remains optimistic.
“Minnesotans have a real independent streak, proven by the election of Gov. Ventura and confounding the pundits. You’re going to see a very credible campaign,” Gibson said.