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The Ventura Legacy: Solidified and Stronger Third Parties

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From the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance press release:

Jesse Ventura ran in the 1998 governor's election as a rebel intent on breaking the hold of the two party system on government. Yet, critics charged that Governor Ventura failed to convert his personal following into a lasting legacy of third party strength in Minnesota. Doug Grow blasted Ventura in a Star Tribune June 2002 column for "blowing a huge opportunity" and "giving almost nothing back" to the Independence Party while Jim Ragsdale predicted in a July 2002 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story that Ventura's legacy "won't endure" in part because "party building" was not a priority.

The conventional wisdom is wrong or, at a minimum, requires a significant revision. Ventura's successful campaign for governor in 1998 solidified and strengthened third parties in State and national elections in Minnesota. Although Ventura benefited from the history of third party success in Minnesota, his election campaign for governor expanded the number of state and national elections in which third party candidates won a significant number of votes.

The strengthening of third parties under Ventura had an impact on the balance of power in Minnesota government. Third Party candidates defeated Democrats and Republicans and won elections. Even when not winning, they tipped several elections by drawing voters from one of the major parties. In the 2002 and 2006 gubernatorial campaigns, Independence Party candidates Tim Penny and Peter Hutchinson likely served as king makers by drawing enough votes from Democratic Party candidates to help Republican Tim Pawlenty win by pluralities of 44 percent and 47 percent.

After Ventura's departure from Minnesota politics in 2002, the success of third parties generally declined.

To read the complete report go to: www.politicsandgovernance.org/reports/2008/The_Ventura_Legacy.pdf

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