Not exactly an October surprise, but former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura’s endorsement of fellow Gov. Tim Walz wasn’t expected.
Ventura, a former Navy Seal and onetime professional wrestler, called his endorsement of any major party candidate unprecedented. But the one-term governor cited Walz’s response to COVID-19 and the threat to abortion rights as reasons for changing tactics.
Ventura also cited the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol as a reason to take a stand.
“Our democracy is under attack,” Ventura said in a video released by the Walz campaign. “I took an oath 50 years ago as a Navy Seal to defend this country. I can’t stand with anyone or any party who cannot condemn the Jan. 6 insurrection.”
State GOP chair David Hann said Thursday that Walz should have rejected Ventura’s endorsement because of the former governor’s promotion of 9/11 conspiracy theories. Ventura in 2009 produced a TV series called “Conspiracy Theory” that included a segment on 9/11.
“This endorsement is an embarrassment and shows that Walz is losing and desperate for support,” Hann said in a statement. “As a Vietnam veteran, I am appalled that Gov. Tim Walz would seek and tout the endorsement of such a discredited conspiracy theorist.”
The endorsement comes a day after former President Donald Trump produced his own surprise — an endorsement of GOP nominee for governor Scott Jensen and GOP nominee for secretary of state Kim Crockett.
Walz and GOP nominee Scott Jensen will face off for the final time before the Nov. 8 election in a joint interview on MPR News at noon Friday.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with reaction from the state’s GOP chair.