MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When I first interviewed Tom Horner last spring and asked why he thought he could be elected Governor of Minnesota as an independent, he replied that he would present the middle ground between two extreme candidates. And he pointed out another independent had done it before: Jesse Ventura. My immediate gut response was, “I knew Jesse Ventura back in 1998 and you are no Jesse Ventura.”
My follow up was only a bit more diplomatic — something to the effect of: “Jesse Ventura was a household name, a celebrity — no one knows who you are.”
Most people still don’t know who Tom Horner is. But more know his name than back in the spring. His conviction that he would represent the middle of the road came months before the Republicans landed on Tom Emmer and the DFL chose Mark Dayton. In the ensuing months, that middle road has become wider than perhaps anyone but Tom Horner might have guessed. With a boost of favorable news coverage, including a glowing virtual endorsement in last Sunday’s editorial page of the Star Tribune, and a well-timed endorsement by former Governor Arne Carlson, Tom Horner is surging.
The latest KSTP-TV poll shows Dayton and Emmer in a virtual tie with 38 and 36 percent of the vote. Horner is out of single digits with a strong 18 percent showing. At this time 12 years ago Jesse Ventura was at 10 percent in the polls.
To Tom Horner, with little more than six weeks left until the election, I say this: “I knew Jesse Ventura back in 1998 and you may just be, with your horn-rimmed glasses and button down style, the Jesse Ventura of a more sober, somber age.”