Ventura announces he won't seek second term

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Associated Press WriterST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Gov. Jesse Ventura announced Tuesday he will not seek a second term, saying his heart is no longer in the job.

Ventura, the former professional wrestler who upset the political establishment with his victory in 1998, also said he was tired of attacks on his family. His announcement came amid reports that his 22-year-old son, Tyrel, used the official governor's residence for weekend parties throughout his term.

"I am not seeking re-election right now," Ventura said in an interview broadcast live on Minnesota Public Radio. "I will not run again."

Ventura said he made his decision a few weeks ago but didn't want it to overshadow his recent trade trip to China. But he also cited what he called "silliness" in the reporting about his son's use of the governor's residence.

"I will always protect my family first," he said.

The governor had until mid-July to declare whether he would seek re-election.

Ventura's 3 1/2 years have been marked by scuffles with Democrats, Republicans and the media.

He presided over four legislative sessions, including three in which the state's budget had a surplus and he directed refunds paid in what he dubbed "Jesse Checks." In 2001, he and Republicans crafted sweeping reforms of the state's property tax.

But last year's recession pushed the state's budget into deficit, and legislators in the most recent session rejected Ventura's remedy that included tax increases and spending cuts.

The policy clashes were coupled with attacks on Ventura's personality and outside activities, including a TV announcing job with the short-lived XFL football league.

Most recently, former employees at the governor's mansion criticized Ventura's son, Tyrel, for having parties and making a mess at the facility.

"It's difficult to do these public service jobs when you know your family could be assassinated by the media at any point, deservedly or undeservedly," Ventura said.

Earlier Tuesday, John Wodele, a spokesman for the governor, acknowledged some property damage at the mansion that required "minor repairs." He said the conditions at the mansion, closed in April as an economy move, were exaggerated by disgruntled ex-employees. But Charlie Weaver, Ventura's public safety commissioner, confirmed that troopers were concerned about drinking and did take licenses from young visitors to the mansion.

Tyrel Ventura declined to comment.

Ventura didn't say what he would do in private life. He said he was "honored" to have served the people of Minnesota.

"I'm kind of like Che Guevera," he said. "I lead the revolution but at some point I turn it over to someone else."

First lady Terry Ventura, appearing separately Tuesday at a charity event, declined comment on the governor's announcement.

In November 1998, the scowling, bald-headed Ventura, running as the candidate of the Reform Party, beat the two major party candidates: Hubert Humphrey III, the Democratic attorney general for the past 16 years and son of the late Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and Republican St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman.

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