The Jesse Ventura is to Kinky Friedman analogy

I was wondering when the first profile comparing Kinky Friedman's bid to Jesse Ventura Minnesota. The Statesman's Selby wins the award for being first:

To gauge Texas writer-singer Kinky Friedman's starting-gun strategy running for governor as an independent, look north 1,000 miles and flash back to 1998 (just before the U.S. House approved articles of impeachment against President Clinton).

That is when retired wrestler Jesse Ventura hammerlocked two high-powered opponents to win election as the Reform Party candidate for governor of Minnesota.


Friedman's campaign, leaning on two Ventura stalwarts, hopes to repeat Ventura's venture next year by selling Friedman as a down-home alternative and driving up voter interest, particularly among young Texans and people who have not voted (or registered to vote) in years.

There's a catch, though. Friedman faces three hurdles that Ventura did not. He has to collect thousands of voter signatures to make the November ballot, he can't count on public dollars to supplement his kitty, and he has to live with the fact that Texas, unlike Minnesota, doesn't allow voters to register at the polls on Election Day a factor judged pivotal in Ventura's upset victory.


The Ventura veterans helping Friedman are Dean Barkley, campaign director for Ventura and Friedman, and Bill Hillsman, an advertising consultant for both who hatched "action figure" TV ads for Ventura and similar spots for Friedman. Hillsman and Barkley also helped conjure a Drive to Victory Tour, bringing Ventura by mobile home to targeted communities in the 72 hours before the election.

Ventura started with an advantage by automatically qualifying for his spot at the top of the ballot because the Reform Party's U.S. Senate nominee, Barkley, won at least 5 percent of the vote in 1996. Texas law requires Friedman to raise more than 45,000 signatures from voters who sit out the party primaries and signatures must be collected in 60 days or less this spring.

Ventura joined six candidate debates, while Friedman isn't guaranteed any opportunity to pitch and woo alongside major-party nominees.

In the debates, Ventura emerged as a straight-talking alternative to the bickering Humphrey and Coleman.

Humphrey, the frontrunner most of that year, made what now seems like a tactical error by insisting that Ventura be included in the debates. His campaign calculated that if Ventura gained ground, he'd draw voters mainly from Coleman. Humphrey's decision, said Gerry Drewry, Ventura's campaign spokeswoman, "was a terrible error on his part, but it was wonderful for us."

Barkley and Hillsman are the reason Friedman never had a chance of joining the Democrats, despite the occasional rumor and Charles Soechting. When your main advisers are committed to the idea of a third party, there isn't much chance that the candidate will switch.

The biggest difference is that Texas doesn't have same day voter registration.

Posted by Evan @ 12/19/05 12:49 PM


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