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Text of Gov. Jesse Ventura's letter to the Reform Party
February 11, 2000
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Dear Reform Party Friends,

Having watched the national Reform Party in recent months, I have concluded that it is best for the Reform Party of Minnesota to disaffiliate from the national Reform Party and reclaim its original Independence Party name. I urge the Minnesota Reform Party delegates to take this action at their earliest opportunity.

As you know, I endorsed Jack Gargan for national Reform Party chair at the July 1999 national convention in Dearborn, Michigan. I thank the delegates who helped elect him. I'm sorry to see that outgoing chairman Russ Verney and his small group of loyalists refused to abide by the spirit the delegates mandated.

The Verney group has opposed Gargan every step of the way. They have resorted to improper control tactics, the most egregious of which is their refusal to release the party bank accounts, financial records, meeting minutes and membership lists to the new chair and treasurer. The party's growth record under their leadership is poor. Gargan and friends have tried to put the party on a success track, but have been stopped by hook and by crook at every turn.

Based on what I have seen in prior years and especially in recent months, I have come to believe that the national Reform Party is hopelessly dysfunctional. It is unworthy of my support and the support of the American people.

The Minnesota Reform Party success story stands in stark contrast to the national Reform Party. When we find ourselves caught up in an unproductive endeavor, it is wise to cut our losses and move on. It's time for the Minnesota Reform Party to disconnect from the national party. It's time to shift our energy and skills from unproductive national party activities to highly productive state party activities.

I'm also recommending disaffiliation and a name change for ideological reasons. Pat Buchanan is now a figure in the Reform Party and is virtually unopposed in the quest for the Reform Party nomination. Buchanan is an anti-abortion extremist and unrealistic isolationist. The Minnesota Reform Party is the party of the political center. In Minnesota, we cannot maintain our socially moderate identity while a right-winger heads our national ticket. If we are to win state and local elections in Minnesota, we must stick to our proven success formula. We must continue to stand as fiscal conservatives and social moderates.

I realize this letter will come as bad news to many good people in other states who were hoping the Minnesota seed of success would take root in the national Reform Party. I too am sorry that did not happen. But it's hard to grow a rose in a desert. When I endorsed Jack Gargan, I did not fully appreciate just how dysfunctional and hollow the national Reform Party had become. Now that I know better, I believe disaffiliation and a name change are best.

In anticipation of public reaction to this letter, let me state that I am not recommending disaffiliation and a name change to set up a Jesse Ventura run for the White House in 2000 or 2004. As I have said again and again, I'm committed to my work as Minnesota Governor. I have no desire to be President.

The potential for a third major national party still exists. Every few year voters stir with the desire for a third party. It happened in 1992 with Perot. It happened in 1995 with the enthusiasm for Colin Powell. It happened in Minnesota when voters elected Mae Schunk and me. There are more than enough like-minded people in the country to build a major national party of the political center.

While I know I'm a natural leader for a new national third-party movement, I'm also the Governor of Minnesota. That's more than a full time job. I simply cannot spare the time for a hands-on role in building a new national party.

If people in other states want the party to grow nationwide, the place to begin is on your neighbor's doorstep. That's how we did it in Minnesota. It's the only way I know that works. Minnesota can serve a new national third party movement best by continuing to set the example for state party success. The Minnesota model can be emulated in the other 49 states. By doing what we do well at home, Minnesota party members can inspire new party growth in other states.

I'll help by serving as a rally point so like-minded people in other stats can find each other. I've instructed my Jesse Ventura Volunteer Committee (JVVC) staff to set up a "Friends of Jesse Ventura" sign-up page on my web site ( The JVVC staff will identify credible contacts and introduce the Ventura Friends to each other in their states. The Ventura Friends can then organize state parties based on the Minnesota model.

I regret having to recommend disaffiliation and a name change. Unfortunately, the national Reform Party has degenerated to the point where I see no healthy alternative. Our Minnesota party must break free to breathe and grow. If people in other states follow Minnesota's example and take up the Independence Party cause, America can still benefit from the grass-roots integrity and wisdom a national party of the political center can provide. With your help, we can make it so.


Jesse Ventura
Governor of Minnesota