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Ventura Finds Minnesotans Have a Sense of Humor
By Laura McCallum
February 26, 1999
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St. Paul business leaders welcomed Governor Ventura into their midst today. Ventura offended some St. Paul residents and Irish-Americans this week by joking on the David Letterman show that drunk Irishmen must have designed the streets in St. Paul. But Mayor Norm Coleman calls Ventura a huge asset to the city.

VENTURA ADDRESSED THE ANNUAL MEETING of the Capital City Partnership, 50 business leaders whose companies have invested $25,000 in revitalizing St. Paul. Mayor Coleman, who initially criticized Ventura's David Letterman comments, made it clear he has no animosity toward his former campaign rival.

Coleman: You are a great friend of the City of St. Paul. We welcome you to our city, we apologize if the welcome wagon hasn't arrived yet on Summit Avenue. I have to tell you, Governor, not just for kids from Minneapolis or kids from Brooklyn but for folks in St. Paul, it is tough to find your way around these streets, no question, no question about that. But I want to make it very clear, make no mistake, everybody in this room and beyond, what a huge asset Governor Ventura is to this city. His leadership style is brand-new to us, but change is good.
Ventura returned the praise, crediting Coleman with boosting downtown development. But the Governor had a request for the city's business leaders. He says the state has helped St. Paul over the years, and now it's time for them to consider the plight of Minnesota's farmers.
Ventura: And I implore these tremendous minds that are in this room right now . The tremendous minds of success that have done for St. Paul what they've done and got St. Paul's economic future bright on the horizon. Well, we now need the help from St. Paul, you, to help our agricultural communities here in Minnesota right now because they are in dire straits.
Ventura offered no specifics on the type of assistance business leaders could provide, and there was little reaction from the group. Ventura warned St. Paul not to expect to get any big projects included in next year's bonding bill, which he says will be a conservative one. He railed against unnecessary laws, saying government shouldn't over-regulate business or citizens.
Ventura: You know, there's been a lot of editorializing right now of people saying Jesse Ventura's not doing his job, because he's only submitted 10 bills to the legislature. Well, that's part of my new movement, ladies and gentleman, I don't think we need any more laws.
The governor says he'll propose that every four years, the Legislature meet only to get rid of obsolete statutes, not pass new ones. But aside from his opposition to unnecessary government regulation, several of Ventura's priorities aren't likely to be popular among the C.E.O.'s who make up the Capital City Partnership. Ventura touted his sales-tax rebate, which would return money to people who don't pay income tax, and his tobacco-settlement plan, which sets aside one-time tobacco money in four foundations, rather than using for tax relief as Republicans support.

Ventura got a big round of applause when he promised to keep state agencies in St. Paul, and he repeated a bland version of his Letterman quip, with no reference to the Irish.
Ventura: Besides, why should everybody else have an easier time not getting lost? If I move them to Minneapolis, I might know where they're at. You do have a sense of humor!
Ventura takes Washington.
Ventura apologizes for ethnic slur.
Reporter's Notebook
Ventura Budget Page
Ventura News Page
While Ventura has made peace with St. Paul's movers and shakers, his relationship with the local news media remains testy. When a reporter asked the governor if he was serious about requiring the legislature to get rid of laws every four years, Ventura shot back that he's always serious now; no more attempts at humor.

Laura McCallum covers politics for Minnesota Public Radio. You can reach her at