With Jesse Ventura out of the race for governor, Minnesota's Republican, Democratic and Green Party candidates are each claiming Ventura supporters will flock to their respective camps. That may be wishful thinking. Ventura won the election with 37 percent of the vote statewide. But he did much better than that in a ring of suburban metro counties north of the Twin Cities. Where do those voters go now?
At her kitchen table in Chisago City, Phyllis Perry remembers well the fall day in 1998 that Jesse Ventura was elected governor. Perry was working as an election judge as she has for more than three decades.
Polling places were busy all over Minnesota, with people like Perry handling an extraordinary number of new voter registrations.
"We were really busy. It was wonderful," says Perry. "That's the most that we have ever had new registrations since I've been working with election. We did call in some extra help because we couldn't handle it all."
Minnesota set a state record for non-presidential race same-day voter registrations. And Chisago County tied with two other outer-ring metro counties for the highest percentage of ballots cast for Ventura. More than half of the people who voted in the county, voted for Jesse Ventura.
"I know in Chisago City in general, a lot of people here voted for him, but I have no any idea why," says Steve Mclafferty, who thinks Ventura was the best choice.
Mclafferty said Ventura displayed a common-sense approach as he campaigned against Democrat Skip Humphrey and Republican Norm Coleman.
At Franky's Live Bait and Marine in Chisago City it seems about everyone - customers and workers alike - voted for Ventura and none of them regrets the decision.
Larry Dahlberg of Taylor's Falls says his vote for Ventura was a vote against the two major party candidates. "Just being sick of politics as usual and I thought it would be quite interesting to see the rats run when Jesse moved into town," he said.
Dahlberg says it's time to Ventura to move on, but he did a good job. "His values were just real simple; home-spun kind of Bull Moose Republican almost and I've always been attracted by that. I was a little embarrassed about some of his antics. In my business, I travel all over the world, and I had to explain him to people all over Africa, Europe and South America and they thought he was quite a joke. I have to admit he was a little more form than substance, but that's Jesse."
Dahlberg say's he'll vote for the most conservative candidate in November's election. Others at the bait shop say without Jesse, they'll turn away from politics.
Mike Foner works at Franky's, but lives in neighboring Anoka County, another Ventura stronghold. "I don't even really care if I do vote again," he says. "I'm sick and tired of the Democrats and Republicans not getting along. The only time they've every gotten along is when they were against Jesse."
Dick Zacharias says he persuaded a lot of people to vote for Ventura, and many of them were newcomers to the polls. As much as the DFL and GOP candidates are hoping they'll attract Ventura supporters, people like Zacharias - furious with mainstream politics - hope Ventura will change his mind.
"I would love to see him run, because I'll tell you something: if he runs, I guarantee he'd win," according to Zacharias.
Outside the hardware store, Chisago County Board Chairman Bob Vande Kamp declined to say who he voted for in the last gubernatorial election. But he says he thinks people voted for Ventura because they were sick and tired of the status quo. And Vande Kamp suspects that some of people Ventura brought to polls, will likely disappear as quickly as they surfaced four years ago.
"Some of the voters will you know look at either party and vote for one of the other candidates for governor and I think some of the voters probably will do like they did before (and) not vote," Vande Kamp says.