In the Spotlight

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That Old Magic
By Martin Kaste
February 18, 1999
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Governor Ventura took a break from the State Capitol today and took his show on the road to the small town of Delano, about half-an-hour west of Minneapolis. Ventura says he's beginning to feel isolated from the people who elected him and he made the trip to get back in touch with the grassroots.

JESSE VENTURA RELIVED THE GLORY DAYS of his Cinderella campaign in Delano. Backed by the Delano High School band and facing a gymnasium full of wildly-cheering kids, it was the old magic all over again

Ventura was clearly loving every moment of his visit, and he almost seemed to be slipping back into his old campaign stump speech, railing against those "career politicians".

Ventura: It's interesting, because people often said during this election, "Jesse Ventura, how are you qualified to be governor? You're a wrestler! You used to whup up on Hulk Hogan! ".
Ventura made a point of saying he didn't consider politics to be his career. In fact, the governor is beginning to sound a little fed up with the day-to-day routine of running the state.
Ventura: You get locked up at the Capitol, and I think at times you lose touch with Minnesotans and by coming out here to Delano today it gets me back in touch with Minnesotans again. The four walls kind of close in over there, and again, you lose sight of what Minnesotans are thinking about.
Ventura spent part of the morning in private meetings with Delano city officials, listening to their concerns. City Manager Kathleen Miller says Ventura seems sympathetic with the needs of small cities, but she's worried about his apparent interest in cutting state aid for local governments.
Miller: You know, he has this willingness to listen, and you know, hopefully, he's listening to what we're saying, and that this will severely impact the residents of this city.
Delano officials say they asked Ventura not to abolish tax-increment financing and other incentive tools that cities use to lure new businesses. Abolishing tax-increment financing is an idea that's gaining strength at the Capitol. Ventura didn't make any promises.
Ventura: I took their questions, and I said I'd give them to my staff, and we'd get back with answers to them. Because that stuff gets so complicated, you know, tax-increment financing, everything that goes on like that, and before you answer questions like that you'd rather study the question more, look up what's happening, and all that, so you can give an accurate answer, instead of an off-the-cuff answer.
Instead of getting into complicated policy discussions, Ventura said he was in Delano mainly to connect with the local people - and to enjoy their support. When asked whether he felt humbled by the enthusiastic reception he got, he said "no".
Ventura: To me it's the opposite. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel that the year I spent campaigning was worth it.
Ventura will get out of the Capitol again this weekend. He's planning a trip to Washington, where he'll meet with his fellow governors, make an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press", and address the National Press Club. After that it's off to New York, where he's scheduled to appear on the David Letterman Show.

Martin Kaste covers politics for Minnesota Public Radio. You can reach him at He'll accompany the Governor to Washington. Look for his reports.