Former Minnesota governor unhappy with biography

Published 10:33 pm Monday, July 17, 2017

ST. PAUL — A former Minnesota governor said he never said the motto that’s featured on a new biographical plaque that went up this month next to his portrait at the state Capitol.

Jesse Ventura told Minnesota Public Radio  that he never said the motto listed on his plaque: “Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat.”

Ventura said his one-time professional wrestler colleague Kenny Patera said the phrase, though it was later attached to him over the years.

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“That has to go,” said Ventura, who is a former professional wrestler. “To put that quote in at a building like the Capitol, I think, is utterly ridiculous.”

The Minnesota Historical Society said they’ll reach out to the former governor about possible changes. The labels are easily updated, unlike the old ones which were on brass, said Brian Szott, historical society curator of art.

Tim Pawlenty said his biography seems to have a political bias and leaves out his key accomplishments, including leading education and energy reforms.

“It’s disappointing, reads like a political commentary in parts, and is not up to the Historical Society’s usual quality standards,” Pawlenty wrote in an email.

Former Govs. Arne Carlson and Al Quie said they have some minor issues, but don’t plan to ask for changes.

“Governors, as anybody as a whole, like only the flattering things said,” Carlson said.

The living former governors said they weren’t consulted about the biographies, nor did they see them in advance.

This is the first time each portrait has a biographical note. Only deceased governors received write-ups previously. Including biographies of living ex-governors is meant to give Capitol visitors more information about the former heads of state, Szott said.

“They are continually leading long lives past their governorship and we want to include them, and we thought the public would be interested in their biographies, especially with such colorful governors as we have had in the recent past,” he said.