A Washington Post story today wonders if Jesse Ventura’s gubernatorial victory in Minnesota might be a road map for the Donald Trump presidential campaign.
Interviews with many Minnesotans involved in that 1998 improbable election victory (but not Ventura, who declined to speak with the Post), “shows there are potent but limited comparisons,” the story says.
The story looks at how Ventura won with 37 percent of the vote in the three-way race, as one of the big differences:
Ventura’s active campaign was a three-month sprint, and he ran as a third-party candidate. Trump is seeking the Republican nomination over a 1½-year marathon. Ventura is a former Navy Seal; Trump got draft deferments. Ventura was, beneath the cartoon bluster, a local kid with a long-term marriage, and he volunteered as a football coach at a local high school. Voters saw him as a good dad and a regular dude. Trump is a billionaire and, well, not a regular dude. And although Ventura was and is socially progressive, Trump blasts minorities and immigrants in crude fashion.
As for comparisons:
Both relish showmanship and being in front of the camera. Both deliver blistering criticisms of the media and career politicians. Voters hold them to a more lenient standard. Both are seen to be independent of special-interest groups. Both earn points with voters for saying things that they think.
And the story quotes Dean Barkley (who managed Ventura’s campaign, served in his Cabinet and was later appointed by Ventura to a two-month stint in the U.S. Senate after Sen. Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash.)
[Trump’s] got even better Teflon than Ventura. Nothing sticks to either of them. In October, only a week or so before the election, Jesse gives a speech and says he’s in favor of legalizing drugs and prostitution — and he went up in the polls. Who else could do that? He and Trump both say [politically] stupid things and they both get away with them.