Filing Deadline: July 21
Nov. 4, 1998 In the most unexpected upset of the year, former professional wrestler and Reform Party candidate Jesse Ventura defeated Republican St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman and Democratic Attorney General Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey III to become governor of Minnesota. Ventura won 37 percent to Coleman's 34 percent and Humphrey's 28 percent, with 96 percent of precincts reporting.
Debates: Ventura, one of the only viable third-party statewide candidates nationwide this year, gave the Minnesota debates a unique tone. Coleman and Humphrey, who already held similar positions on many issues, seemed even more alike with him onstage. Running as an outsider, Ventura portrayed his opponents as cast from the same political mold.
Advertising: Humphrey and Coleman focused their October TV ads on their efforts to lower crime and taxes. Ventura's broadcast efforts were humorous and irreverent. One spot featured an imaginary "Jesse Ventura Action Figure." In a radio ad, Ventura sang a campaign song to the tune of "The Theme From Shaft."
Fund-raising: Through Oct. 19, Coleman led the fund-raising race, raising $2.5 million to Humphrey's $1.8 million. Both were far ahead of Ventura's $254,953.
Polls: With Humphrey and Coleman running dead even in late October polls, Ventura pulled votes from both sides. A Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research poll conducted Oct. 23 to Oct. 25 showed Humphrey with 34 percent, Coleman with 33 percent and Ventura with 23 percent. In Minneapolis Star Tribune/KMSP-TV survey conducted in mid-October, Humphrey got 35 percent, Coleman got 34 percent and Ventura got 21 percent.
Ryan Thornburg, washingtonpost.com
Ryan Thornburg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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