Editorial: Ventura clearly had enough of governorship

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Specualation abounds on why Gov. Jesse Ventura will not run for another term. Some say problems with his son’s use of the governor’s mansion were his reason; he made his announcement to direct attention away from that situation, the theory goes. Others say his popularity was down too much for him to win again, thanks to problems like the much-publicized governor’s mansion debacle.

But most likely is that his reasons were just what he said they were: He’s had enough. His heart is not in it.

It’s easy to understand why. Elected as an outsider and a maverick, it wasn’t going to be long before he felt frustrated by a system that requires a governor to work together with legislators, and where nobody is going to get everything they want. This was demonstrated most clearly during the last session, when lawmakers bypassed the governor’s recommendations on almost everything, using veto overrides to make him practically irrelevant. Ventura responded by withdrawing.

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The ride began with success for Ventura, with a couple of large surpluses, millions of rebate checks in the mail and even some agreement with legislators on property-tax reform. But with state budget problems in the last year, and with the way he was marginalized by the legislature, his frustration became more and more clear.

There is a good chance that despite all the problems, Ventura could have won another term if he had tried. In a three-way race, less than 40 percent of the vote could have done it. And Ventura was at his bombastic best when he was campaigning and debating his opponents.

But instead, Minnesota’s strangest political experiment will end. We have learned that an outsider makes a good candidate &045; and even is capable of making good policy &045; but in the final analysis, will have a tough time governing.