- The Washington Times - Monday, July 14, 2008

Jesse Ventura will not enter the Minnesota Senate race, ending weeks of intense speculation on whether he would play last-minute spoiler in what some have predicted will be the nation’s most-watched and costly Congressional race.

Mr. Ventura, the former professional wrestler known as “The Body,” announced his decision not to run as a third-party candidate on CNN’s “Larry King Live” Monday night, saying he was angry at politics as usual in Washington and criticizing the current Senate slate in his home state.

“I won’t endorse a Democrat or a Republican,” the colorful Mr. Ventura said.

“I’ve got no one to vote for,” he said, noting that in casting a ballot he would only be voting against someone.

Mr. Ventura, who rose to fame winning the governor’s election in 1998 and who had a strained relationship not only with the legislature but also the media during his tenure in office, was outraged at the current political tone in Washington. But he said it was his daughter’s concerns about press scrutiny in their family life that ultimately helped him to make his mind up that he would not re-enter the political ring.

“This was an agonizing decision,” he said, before castigating Al Franken, the likely Democratic party nominee, and incumbent U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, who is currently leading in the polls.

He said it came down to a choice between the Senate and his current hobby surfing, which he enjoys at his second home in Baja, California.

“I found surfing to be much more honorable than the Senate,” he said. “The ocean doesn’t lie to you, the waves don’t lie to you. My government does lie to you today.”

Calling himself a rogue independent and also a patriot, Mr. Ventura handicapped the current Senate race.

“I don’t see how Al Franken could possibly win,” Mr. Franken said. “He should be leading in the polls and not trailing me, even though I’m not a candidate.”

Mr. Ventura cited a recent poll conducted by the ABC television affiliate in Minneapolis that showed him ahead of Mr. Franken if he had entered the Senate race this week.

“I think that bodes very badly for the Democrats in the fact that you have an unpopular president, a more unpopular Congress and a senator in lockstep with this president and now you have a third party candidate who hasn’t announced and you have fallen behind him. I think the Democrats are in some serious trouble.”

Noting that politics is “the dirtiest business in the world,” Mr. Ventura was outspoken in his disdain for the ways of Washington.

“Our politics, to me in America, has turned shameful,” Mr. Ventura told host Larry King before making his announcement.

He compared national politics to the fantasy world he helped to create in the ring.

“To me it’s a case of federal politics is much like pro wrestling,” he said. “In front of us they pretend they are angry with each other but they are all in the backrooms cutting deals. I think the public believes it just like they did in wrestling. Both parties are bought and sold by the same lobbyists.”

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