Ventura Gets Ready To Govern
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Gov.-elect Jesse Ventura’s book deal is ready. He was a ratings smash on the late-night talk shows. Minnesotans are snapping up ``Our governor can beat up your governor″ T-shirts.
Now comes the hard part.
The Body will be sworn in Jan. 4, and legislators are wondering what they can expect from the former pro wrestler, who was famously vague on the campaign trail, saying he would sign any bills that were good for the state and veto the bad ones.
``Who knows what’s going to come out of this? We haven’t had any appointments. It’s kind of been a media blitz,″ Senate Republican Leader Dick Day said. Day said he had met briefly with Ventura, and they talked about ``Porsches and horses.″
In the two months since Ventura knocked the wind out of both the Democrats and the Republicans with his third-party victory, he has tended to transition needs, drawing crowds of enthusiastic state workers on a combination victory lap-learning tour of state agencies. He has also chosen a respected administrator as his chief of staff.
``Most people think he has held his own very well. He has shown a seriousness when required and a sense of humor,″ University of Minnesota political science professor Steven Smith said.
But with the legislative session scheduled to begin the day after Ventura’s inauguration, Smith said the governor-elect needs to start sending signals now to the public and the Legislature about what is important to him.
``If you rely entirely on the signing and veto stage, you’re not very likely to succeed,″ Smith said.
Similarly, Carleton College political science professor Steven Schier thinks it’s time for Ventura _ whom he calls the ``infotainment governor″ _ to focus on serious business, not national media interviews.
``Governing is not fun. He’s trying to make it fun by not governing,″ Schier said. But he added, ``If the economy stays good and we are not hit by any major state crises, this can go on for a while.″
Ventura has many administration appointments to make and will be expected to lay out an agenda for the Legislature _ if he has one. Will he push for consideration of a bill to legalize prostitution? Fireworks? Industrial hemp? He talked about all of them in the campaign.
``I will not be a governor that spreads myself so thin immediately on ideas,″ Ventura said.
Ventura has named Steven Bosacker, the head of his transition team, as his chief of staff. Bosacker was on leave as executive director of the University of Minnesota Board of Regents. He is considered an expert on government management.
His leadership will be important this year because Minnesota’s government is split three ways. The Democrats control the Senate. The Republicans will run the House for the first time in 13 years. And Ventura stands alone as a member of the Reform Party.
While Ventura is not required by law to submit an agenda, he is required to submit a two-year budget.
House Speaker-designate Steve Sviggum, who will be leading the 134-member body for the first time, sid that given Minnesota’s projected $3.3 billion surplus over the next 2 1/2 years, ``It would be very difficult to blow it.″
And Sen. Dean Johnson, a Republican, noted that Ventura has one important thing going for him: ``He’ll have the advantage of having the public on his side.″