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Just One of the Govs
by Mark Zdechlik
February 28, 2000
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Minnesota's governor is not the attraction at the National Governors Association conference that he was last year. Jesse Ventura says his lower profile suits him fine.

This year Ventura seems much more like a regular governor attending the conference, than a celebrity making an appearance.
Photo: Mark Zdechlik
IT'S NOT THAT JESSE VENTURA ever really finds himself alone, looking for company. But unlike last year when he had some difficulty just getting around, amid the media attention, this year Ventura seems much more like a regular governor attending the conference, than a celebrity making an appearance.

Ventura: It's kind of nice, you know, being able to focus on coming and going to the different seminars and not worried about coming out of them and being overwhelmed by the media.
Ventura says he enjoys the Governor's Association meetings, because of the collective expertise they afford him in areas of cutting-edge importance to Minnesota and other states.
Ventura: You go to these meetings to learn what people are doing in other states; maybe not make mistakes that they've made if they're ahead of you, or maybe to give them ideas too, because we have an open policy that we steal from each other. If Tommy, Governor Thompson, comes up with a great idea in Wisconsin, it's OK for me to steal that idea. If I come up with a great idea, maybe Governor Ridge of Pennsylvania will steal that idea.
One area all the governors seem particularly interested in, maybe worried about, is ensuring states do all they can to keep up with Internet technology. At a meeting of the association's economic development committee, Governor Ventura talked about what Minnesota is doing in hopes of ensuring technology leaves no part of the state behind.
Ventura: We're actually undergoing one of the most unique projects, I think, in the country called "Connecting Minnesota." And we're building a fiber-optic backbone; laying high-bandwidth wire along almost 2,000 miles of Minnesota trunk highway.
Ventura did not leave his battle with state lawmakers behind on his trip to Washington. After Sunday's meeting, so much of which focused on telecommunications, Ventura ripped into the state Senate for not confirming Steve Minn as a commissioner.

In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Ventura said Minn was "eminently qualified" to lead the state's planned telecommunications upgrade.
Ventura: I've moved beyond it now, but I'll continue to remind them of their stupidity. As we move forward on different telecommunications initiatives, I'll make it very vocal to constantly remind them that they made a choice for their own ego and their own personal, instead of for the state of Minnesota
Later this morning, the governors meet with President Clinton at the White House, where they had dinner last night. Governor Ventura is also scheduled to meet with the United States trade representative about trade opportunities in China.

He's also meeting with the Mexican ambassador, who will formally invite the governor to make a trade mission to that country. Ventura says he'll accept, and he hopes to make the trip before the end of the year.
Ventura: I want to do trade missions. We had a very successful trade mission to Japan, and we'll do one to Mexico and to Europe for sure over the next three years. When, I don't know ; Mexico maybe late this fall.
Sunday morning on NBC's Meet the Press Ventura said he'd be open to joining John McCain on a presidential ticket this year if McCain leaves the Republican Party.

McCain advisors say the Arizona senator has no plans to do so. Ventura later downplayed the suggestion; attributing interest in his possible national political inspirations to reporters looking for a new angle on the presidential race.