Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura said in an interview yesterday that he has no plans to run for Senate, but that he has learned to “never say never“. Ventura said that he is not satisfied with either of the current candidates, mirroring the dissatisfaction with both parties that spurred his bid for Governor. Ventura decided against seeking reelection in 2002 and has been out of office for five years.
In his own right, Ventura would make a strong candidate just has he did when he won the Governor’s race with less than 40% of the vote. He taps into frustration with the two major parties in a way that the candidates who represent them cannot. In doing so, he not only draws frustrated Republicans and Democrats but he also attacts support from those who do not traditionally participate in elections.
That said, this is bad news for team Franken. Franken manages better than most candidates to tap into the frustration that most citizens have with “the system” and in a two-man race is certain to capture the votes of those seeking change. The trouble for Franken, though, is that Coleman’s approval ratings are around the 50% mark, which is a pretty good barometer of his support. Even assuming that he polls ten points lower, 40% could well be enough to return the Senator to Washington for another six years in the event of a three man race.
Ventura’s real problem is that he’s not a surprise any more. I have held since the day he was elected that Minnesotans never expected that he would become their Governor. Instead, they were simply fed up with both parties and decided to cast protest votes, never dreaming that those votes could actually lead to a Ventura victory. Now though, they hopefully know better, and those who take voting seriously or who are not entirely fed up with everyone even remotely connected to politics are likely to support the incumbent.