Minnesota Gov. Jesse L. Ventura, whose 1998 election victory as an independent candidate stunned the national political establishment, told a radio audience today he will not ask voters to re-elect him.
"I am not seeking re-election," Ventura said during an appearance late this morning on Minnesota Public Radio. "I will not run again."
Ventura said that allegations about his son Tyrel, 22, hosting raucous parties in the governor's mansion heightened his concerned for his family's privacy.
A spokeswoman in Ventura's Minneapolis office told ABCNEWS the governor looked forward to returning to private life. She said the governor would not comment further today.
Bill Hillsman, Ventura's ad-maker and a top political adviser, called the announcement "a dark day for independents."
"He was run out of town by the two parties," Hillsman said.
Decision Isn’t a Surprise
The announcement did not come as a surprise. For weeks, Ventura has hinted he was nearing a decision on his political future, and during a trade trip to China, let it be known that he wasn't thrilled about his recent fights with the state government.
He has not gotten along with members of the Minnesota Legislature, and his campaign vow to do away with one of its two chambers sullied relations with them from the start. By his account, the Legislature has frustrated several of his major proposals, but it has helped him with others. He is credited, most significantly, with persuading the state to reform its property tax structure.
In April, Ventura shut down the governor's mansion, saying the Legislature had cut his funding so much that he couldn't afford to keep it open to the public.
On Monday, state news media reported that the governor's son held Saturday night parties at the home without proper supervision from Ventura or his wife.
The Associated Press reported that a spokesperson for the governor acknowledged some property damage at the mansion that required "minor repairs."
Hillsman said, "I know that the attacks were orchestrated and were coordinated by the two parties. You don't seen Republicans and Democrats agreeing on too much, except when someone threatens to break in to their power."
From Pro Wrestler to Unlikely Politician
Nancy Jorgenson, the vice chairwoman of Ventura's Independence Party, said she was disappointed by the announcement but accepted his reasons.
"I do believe the governor would have won had he run again," she said.
A former professional wrestler, Navy SEAL and small-town mayor, Ventura's 1998 election victory sideswiped the political world. His maverick campaign focused on turnout of independents, veterans and college students. In that three-way race, he defeated St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman (who is now running for Senate) and favorite son Skip Humphrey.
Minnesota House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty was nominated Saturday as the Republican gubernatorial nominee for November's election. State Sen. Roger Moe is the Democratic candidate. The Independence Party meets July 13, though there's little indication who it will nominate. The state Green Party has endorsed candidate Ken Pentel.
Ventura told staff members and his political consultants about his decision earlier this morning.