A ‘Body’ slam: Ventura wins

Brian Close

The two major party candidates and countless incredulous television pundits wore shocked faces Tuesday night as wave after wave of precinct numbers reflected that Jesse Ventura, the former pro wrestler and mayor of Brooklyn Park, would be the 38th governor of Minnesota.
Ventura is the first Reform Party governor ever.
“We shocked the world,” a jubilant Ventura told NBC’s Tom Brokaw in a nationally televised post-election interview. “I feel like Muhammad Ali beating Sonny Liston.”
At 11:45 p.m., the Voter News Service declared Ventura the winner. At the time of the announcement, Ventura had mustered more than 37 percent of the vote, with Norm Coleman coming in second with 34 percent and Hubert H. “Skip” Humphrey bringing up the rear with 28 percent.
Coleman and Humphrey did not concede the race until nearly an hour after the declaration.
Ventura, 47, gave his victory speech just after midnight at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, where more than 1,000 supporters spent the night drinking beer, eating dinner and cheering under the light of a full moon.
“Let them say, ‘A vote for Jesse is a wasted vote,'” Ventura said in his victory speech. “I’ll say, ‘we wasted them with wasted votes.'”
Minnesota’s governor-elect, who has said his politics reflect libertarian views — including lowering taxes and reducing government — refrained from divulging specifics on what he plans to do while in office.
“I made one promise: I’ll do the best job I can do. I’m human; I’ll probably make mistakes. But, if they are from the heart, then you don’t have to apologize for them,” Ventura said to a roaring crowd.
Ventura’s campaign centered around returning budget surpluses to citizens through tax rebates, but he provided few details on how he would give back the money.
Regarding financial aid, Ventura has said if students are smart enough to go to college, they should be smart enough to find a way to pay for it themselves.
Ventura said his running mate, Mae Schunk, a teacher of 36 years, would be charged with the task of improving education in Minnesota.
Ryan Ahern and Anthony Albanese, juniors in the Carlson School of Management who attended the victory party, called the campaign party “one of the most fun parties of the year.”
“If you look at everybody, nobody is wearing a coat,” Albanese said. “They are all real people.”
Dean Barkley, Reform Party candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1992, ’94, and ’96, opened up public funds for Ventura when he received more than 5 percent of the statewide vote, and at least one vote in each county.
“I always said, ‘We have to build the ship and fill the sails with wind before they’ll jump on,’ and maybe now they will,” Barkley said.
Alan Shilepsky, Reform Party candidate for Secretary, predicted that the results would propel the party ahead in future races.
“We’ve reached the takeoff stage, and the future looks really bright,” he said. “It makes you believe that democracy really works.”