ST. PAUL (AP) -- With the double committee rejections of Commerce Commissioner Steve Minn's confirmation, the Senate is poised for a rare vote striking down a major gubernatorial cabinet appointee.
That's one big legislative thump to Gov. Jesse Ventura.
Minn consistently argues he is just a pawn in the crossfire between Ventura and disgruntled lawmakers. Senators say Ventura isn't the issue; Minn's operating style is.
So is Minn the victim or the villain in the confirmation drama?
He's a little of both.
If the Senate wanted to use Minn to send a message to Ventura about the importance of its role in government, Minn made it easy. Now he could be the first major gubernatorial cabinet appointee to face rejection within at least 25 years.
A vote may come Thursday, and it doesn't look good. Two panels already shot down Minn's appointment to lead merged Commerce and Public Service departments.
The showdown has been a long time coming -- probably since the night Ventura was elected.
Ventura rode into office deriding ''career politicians'' and hasn't slowed down much in his criticism of ''partisan party politics.''
One of those politicians he defeated was Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe, DFL-Erskine. Moe was the gubernatorial running mate of former Attorney General Hubert Humphrey III.
Moe has been in the Senate since 1970 and by anybody's accounting has served admirably. He has led the Senate since 1981. Many would consider him one of the most influential Minnesota politicians of the century.
So it can't be easy for Moe to see the governor flaunting his celebrity, earning millions on private business ventures while mocking lawmakers who take their work and sacrifices seriously.
But the rebukes are about more than Moe and Ventura.
Ventura hasn't overwhelmed the Legislature with shows of respect. He not only surprised them with vetoes last year, he used a pig stamp. When he merged the agencies he wants Minn to lead, he did so by executive order without consulting lawmakers.
That's where Minn comes in.
Key leaders say they pulled merger bills in 1999 on a promise from Minn that the Legislature would be consulted about changes in the structure of government.
Throughout the confirmation process neither he nor Ventura showed much humility, one thing that might have helped guide Minn through the rocks.
At his hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. Bill Belanger, R-Bloomington, publicly accused Minn of lying. Rather than try to smooth it over, Minn returned fire, using language rarely heard at Senate hearings.
''Not only did I walk in thinking an old friend was going to support me, I walked out with somebody kicking me in the ass,'' Minn said of a meeting with Belanger.
Belanger retorted that the two could hardly be considered old friends.
Those few who voted for Minn's confirmation said the issue shouldn't be his abrasive style or difficult personality.
But Sen. Deanna Weiner, DFL-Eagan, said that style unfortunately will make it difficult for Minn to work with lawmakers, a critical part of his job.
Minn sprinkled apologies throughout the hearing, but let the criticism fly afterward, showing just how injudicious he can be.
He accused Moe of orchestrating his defeat. Even if Moe could control all the DFL votes, he can't tell the Republicans what to do and many of them voted against Minn, too.
With his scathing comments about Moe, Minn further sealed his fate while showing anyone who listened exactly how he ended up in the bind.
St. Paul correspondent Rochelle Olson has covered politics for The Associated Press since 1993.
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