In the Spotlight

News & Features
What's Ventura Promoting?
By Mark Zdechlik
June 16, 2000
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Governor Jesse Ventura wrapped up his latest out-of-state trip after a busy week of state and personal business in California. The governor is once again defending his extra-gubernatorial activities amid criticism he's more interested in promoting himself than representing Minnesotans as the state's highest elected official.


Read and listen to stories, and view photographs of Ventura's California tour in our special section.
BEFORE CATCHING HIS FLIGHT home, Governor Ventura took up his weekly position behind his microphone. He broadcast the Lunch with the Governor radio program from a studio in Los Angeles using his electronic pulpit to defend his high-profile, on-the-go approach to governing.

"I could go visit people dying of cancer in the hospital, and the Taxpayers League of Minnesota would find something wrong with what I was doing, and they'd say I was promoting my own self interest," Ventura said.

Ventura says his travels, like his trips to Japan, New York, Chicago and - most recently - Los Angeles help bring attention to Minnesota and he says the increased attention boosts tourism.

"These people are very ignorant, and I guess they don't understand what tourism means to the world today," he said.

Ventura focused exclusively on tourism earlier in the week, announcing a marketing agreement with an L.A.-based tour arranger which brings a million foreign travelers to the U.S. annually.

He was also the main draw at an evening reception for L.A.-based Japanese tour industry employees.

Before that Ventura talked public policy at California State University in Monterey.

But what garnered the most attention hands down was his taping an episodeof CBS's hit daytime drama The Young and the Restless.

It's the governor's favorite soap opera. And more than a dozen camera crews, print and radio reporters were on hand at CBS to document the event. The show he recorded will air July 10th. The governor's been joking, presumably, about declaring that day a state holiday.

"I think Jesse really understands that, as governor, he has a unique opportunity to set himself up for life."

- Steven Schier
Political scientiest
In California, there was also golf with Clint Eastwood at Pebble Beach, a dinner with move director Oliver Stone, the taping of a Dateline NBC segment followed by an evening with Maria Shriver and Arnold Swartzenegger, and an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. (Listen) Ventura also promoted his upcoming book.

"We usually understand governor to be a fulltime job," says Carleton College Political Science Department Chair Steven Schier. "However, Jesse uses it as one of two jobs. I think Jesse really understands that, as governor, he has a unique opportunity to set himself up for life. Serve a term, make significant amounts of money beyond the official salary during that term, and create a celebrity profile that will carry him in to several strong, income-producing years after he is governor."

Schier says the governor's out of state trips do benefit Minnesota. The larger question, he says, is: "at what cost?". For example, should the governor be focusing so much on tourism with the looming potential of Northwest Airlines being snatched up by another carrier and Minneapolis - St. Paul losing a hub and a massive corporate headquarters.

Ventura says the Northwest situation is preliminary and doesn't yet warrant his direct intervention. "Just because a couple people discuss something doesn't mean it's in the works or happening; we're on top of it," he says.

Ventura says he'll be concentrating on state business now that the L.A. trip over over. First and foremost, he says, he will work with other Midwest officials to see what can be done about rising gas prices. He also says he'll be working on his proposal for a state budget and campaigning hard for a unicameral legislature that meets every other year to replace the state house and senate, which meet annually.

Ventura says he very much enjoyed his return to acting this week and he says don't be surprised if he takes on a movie role during his term. "If I were to make one, it couldn't be for an extensive period," Ventura says. "It would be a cameo or maybe, at most, work five days - and that might even be stretching it a little bit."

Ventura has no major trips planned in the immediate future. However the national spotlight is likely coming to him again in the form of a visit from Vice President Al Gore and his wife, Tipper.