ST. PAUL -- Retiring Gov. Jesse Ventura said Friday he's not only giving Tim Penny his support, he's giving him cold, hard campaign cash.
He pledged to donate the more than $65,000 sitting in his own campaign account to the former congressman's bid to become Minnesota's next governor.
"It gets us off to a running start," Penny said, standing shoulder to shoulder with Ventura on the Capitol steps. "I think it's very helpful and I appreciate the governor's generosity and willingness to do that."
One of the Independence Party's core precepts is not taking special interest money from political action committees. Ventura has repeatedly criticized candidates who accept PAC funds as puppets with special interests pulling their strings.
Penny, however, wasn't ready to rule out the possibility of taking PAC money, saying he still needed to map out his campaign strategy.
"One of my advisers is going to be Jack Uldrich, the chair of the party," Penny said. "I was thinking we weren't going to take any. But we'll see how Jack feels about that. Maybe he knows of some interest group somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. There aren't too many though."
Tom Foley -- a Washington lobbyist for Ventura who ran for Congress in the last election on the IP ticket -- accepted money from PACs, saying he didn't want to put himself at a disadvantage in a competitive race.
But the governor said Penny -- who left the Democratic Party this week to run as an IP candidate -- doesn't need any PAC contributions.
"I won without PAC money," Ventura said. "Tim Penny can win without PAC money."
Earlier, on a live radio program, Penny said he was going to run "an unconventional campaign." His kickoff was evidence: no press conference, no airplane flyaround, little fanfare.
Asked if the fledgling Independence Party had enough infrastructure to help him mount a full-blown campaign, Penny said he'd be looking for help from inside and outside the party.
He hasn't yet named a running mate, but said he had someone in mind. Among those being considered is Rebecca Yanisch, commissioner of the state Department of Trade and Economic Development. Yanisch ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate as a Democrat in 2000.
Penny will face some opposition from within the IP before November: Christine Jax, the state commissioner of Children, Families and Learning.
In the past, Ventura has consistently reproached candidates for public office who were running campaigns on state time. But he wouldn't say whether Jax should take a leave from her post to campaign.
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