ST. PAUL -- Wanted: Independent-minded voters to elect same to Minnesota House and Senate seats in November. Apply below.
No one said Gov. Jesse Ventura's Independence Party was traditional, but the infant in Minnesota's political scene proved it will go to great lengths to attract members by taking out large advertisements in Sunday newspapers. One appeared in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, the newspaper with the largest statewide circulation.
The ads use Ventura, the party's shining star, as a recruitment tool for new ''centrist'' candidates and members to help carve out a spot in the Legislature. All 201 seats are up for grabs this fall, and Independence Party leaders are hoping to win at least five.
''We can change things for the better by electing just a handful of Independence Party members to the House and Senate,'' reads the ad, which is cast in Ventura's voice. ''They'd have the swing vote. No bill could become law without IP approval. With that power, we can force the Democrats and Republicans to enact real reforms.''
At the bottom is a membership form that can be clipped out and sent to the party's North Mankato office.
''This is a push to go out and have some candidates to come forward,'' said Dean Barkley, a party leader and a top aide to Ventura. ''The challenge for this party is to win some legislative seats. If we win some legislative seats we will establish ourselves once and for all.''
Don't expect the two major parties to follow suit. DFL state chairman Mike Erlandson called it a ''noble attempt to make a statement,'' but he would be surprised if it actually worked.
''I'm not sure that an advertisement like this inspires tons of people to get their scissors out, clip it out and send it in,'' Erlandson said.
He added that the heavy emphasis on Ventura affirms his perception of the Independence Party. ''By and large it's the Jesse Ventura fan club,'' Erlandson said.
Cedric Scofield agreed. Scofield is helping re-establish a Minnesota Reform Party to fill the void left when Ventura and his followers bolted to form the Independence Party.
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