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November 9, 1998 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: Jesse Ventura wins Minnesota Governor election, WCW trailing WWF, more

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In a major stunner, Jesse Ventura (James Janos) was elected Governor of Minnesota on 11/3. Ventura made a victory speech at about Midnight Central time winning an election where he was a distant third in the polls until literally the day of the election.

With 80 percent of the votes counted at press time, Ventura, representing the Reform Party, had 37 percent of the vote to 35 percent for Norm Coleman, the Republican mayor St. Paul, and 28 percent for Minnesota Attorney General Skip Humphrey, the grandson of 1968 Democratic Presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey. The newspaper polls the day of the election had Humphrey and Coleman deadlocked at 33 percent with Ventura at 31 percent. Ventura had been doing between 10 and 15 percent in the polls until good showings in debates and some creative television commercials led to a quick ascension as the election came up.

Ventura, 47, who wrestled from 1975 to 1986, and gained even more fame after that point as the first heel color commentator on a national broadcast in decades with the WWF and later WCW, served a term as mayor of Brooklyn Park. The political infrastructure in Minnesota largely considered his candidacy a joke, but he was very popular among younger people who traditionally don't vote in elections as something of a protest candidate.

He had gained a lot of national publicity in the final week of his campaign as the most serious third party candidate for a major office in the country, not to mention his colorful background.

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