Governors Praise Jesse Ventura
Nov. 13, 1998
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) _ The topic was ``How to Be a Governor,'' and one new student stood out. He was flashy, loud, a great storyteller. And he cut class early.
Jesse Ventura, the former professional wrestler who says his first act as Minnesota's governor will be to ``kick up my feet on a chair and smoke a stogie,'' definitely made an impression Friday.
``He's a delight, a breath of fresh air for the political process. He's going to be a star,'' said Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who discussed education reform in a private meeting with Ventura.
Thompson, a Republican, was one of 21 governors leading an orientation session Friday and Saturday for new state executives.
``I like him,'' said Democratic Gov. Tom Carper of Delaware. ``He's got his head screwed on right.''
Ventura was the conference's top attraction, for his new colleagues as well as the media, before he left to help coach a high school football game back in Minnesota. Ventura is the volunteer conditioning coach for Champlin Park High.
Eleven of the 13 new governors attended the conference.
Ventura, an upset victor last week under the Reform Party banner, had no trouble with at least one of the lessons.
``What we learned is that you've got to be your own man. You've got to be your own governor,'' said Ventura, who showed up for Thursday night's banquet in a fringed leather jacket and white Western boots. He switched to pinstripes Friday morning.
The sessions, all private, covered everything from organizing the transition to developing an agenda, managing family life and dealing with the media.
Such conferences, held every two years, usually draw no more than a dozen reporters and photographers. More than 80 showed up this time, drawn by Ventura, the self-proclaimed ``most exciting governor.''
One of the new governors _ Ventura wouldn't say who _ confessed to colleagues that he was scared. ``That makes you feel good, knowing you're not alone,'' Ventura said at one of two news conferences he held in town.
Topic A, other than Ventura, was education, though they espoused different solutions and avoided the controversial school voucher issue.
Ventura's story was itself a lesson for some of the governors. He won a three-way race with the help of a surge in last-minute voter registrations.
``He energized a dissatisfied segment of the Minnesota electorate,'' said Democrat Gray Davis of California.
Voters ``are looking for heroes,'' said Republican Gov. Jim Geringer of Wyoming. ``The unknown is a lot more appealing when people are frustrated with the current situation.''