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« Dem Leads NC Rematch | Blog Home Page | Strategy Memo: Bold Move »

The Body Is Back

Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura is considering an independent run for the Senate, and the rumor got a little more weight yesterday when a Ventura political associate, former Senator Dean Barkley, said that he not only thinks Ventura will run, but that he will win. The implications of a Ventura bid on the outcome of the race are still unclear, including whom it could hurt more, Republican Senator Norm Coleman or DFL endorsee Al Franken.

"I think the public would like an alternative," Barkley said, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "The polls just show that [Coleman and Franken] have weaknesses that could be exploited by the right person."

Ventura, who was elected governor as a member of the Reform Party but later in his term switched to the Independence Party, appointed Barkley to the Senate in November 2002 to fill out the remaining two months of the late Senator Paul Wellstone's term. Coleman defeated Walter Mondale in the 2002 Senate election, after Mondale filled in for Wellstone on the DFL ticket, and took over the Senate seat from Barkley. A Ventura bid would lead to his second meeting with Coleman, whom he defeated, along with Hubert Humphrey III, in the 1998 race for governor.

A recent poll showed about a quarter of voters would support Ventura if he ran, placing him third behind Coleman and Franken. The poll also showed that Franken would lose slightly more supporters to Ventura than Coleman would. Still, more than half of respondents said Ventura should not run. Minnesota GOP chairman Ron Carey doesn't see voters going for another Ventura candidacy. "The Jesse Ventura of 2008 is different from the Jesse Ventura of 1998," Carey told the Star Tribune. "He has a track record now, and [Minnesotans are] not going to want to go back for a re-do."

Ventura declined to run for a second term as governor in 2002, favoring a return to the private sector and out of the public spotlight. Though he currently splits his time between Minnesota and Mexico, Ventura apparently is ready once again for life in public service. However, skeptics might say Ventura is merely dangling a possible Senate bid to boost sales for his book, which was published April 1, according to Amazon.com, and for which he has been doing a promotional tour over the last few months.

-- Kyle Trygstad