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Ventura Flexes Muscle in Reform Party
By Martin Kaste
June 30, 1999
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Governor Ventura wants the Reform Party to distance itself from its founder, Texas billionaire Ross Perot; Ventura is weighing in on internal party politics to help make that happen.

THE REFORM PARTY IS DUE to elect a new party chairman at its national convention next month, and Governor Ventura says Jack Gargan is the right man for the job.
Ventura: Do you know who he is? He's that famous guy who took out those full-page ads, "Throw the Bums Out." Remember those? "Throw the Bums Out!"
For More Information
Read a copy of Jesse Ventura's letter to Reform Party members.

Visit the Reform Party Web Site.

In case that doesn't jog your memory, Jack Gargan is the Florida man who in 1990 spent $50,000 of his own retirement savings to buy six full-page ads in national newspapers calling for term limits in Congress. The effort soon turned into a non-profit organization called "Throw the Hypocritical Rascals Out," or "THRO."
Gargan: It exploded. And before it ran its course - four years, it ran '90, '91, '92, '93 - people sent me enough to money to run 633 of those full-page ads.
Since then, Gargan has run unsuccessfully for governor and congressman in Florida under the Reform and Independence Party banners, but now he says Jesse Ventura is the light of the nation's anti-incumbent political movement.

The Reform party has been languishing in the last few years. Poor showings in local elections have caused it to lose its access to ballots in several states. During the last presidential race, it had access in all 50 states, now it has access in only 19. Gargan says the party needs to learn from Ventura's success in Minnesota.
Gargan: Instead of getting involved in the kinds of things that the governor is doing up there, an exemplary job of getting people excited, we've kind of drifted along here recently, and it gives, unfortunately, rightly or wrongly, it gives the impression that the party is being held together for somebody's use, down the road a bit.
Gargan and Ventura share the belief that the national Reform Party needs to distance itself from its founder and two-time presidential candidate, Texas billionaire Ross Perot. In fact, Perot himself does not officially run the party anymore; that job belongs to party chairman Russ Verney, a former Perot campaign adviser. From his Dallas office, Verney rejects the notion that Perot's influence somehow taints the party.
Verney: It's not who is overshadowing the party, there's plenty of room for people who want to work and come in and join the party. There's no room for people who want to be annointed and take over.
Verney says he's not sure yet whether he'll run for re-election as party chairman, but he says he's encouraging as wide a contest as possible. With Ventura's public endorsement of Gargan, the party leadership election is beginning to shape up as a battle between Perot loyalists and the self-styled new guard, who are lining up behind Ventura, the party's biggest success story.
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Martin Kaste covers politics for Minnesota Public Radio. You can reach him at


The tug-of-war for control of the party could have real consequences in the 2000 election season. If party delegates decide to break with the Perot leadership at this year's annual convention, that could be a strong indication that they don't intend to give Perot the nod as their presidential candidate next year. Perot hasn't said yet whether he intends to run, but people like Jack Gargan and Governor Ventura want to make sure he doesn't, at least not on the Reform Party ticket.