Today was agriculture day in Governor Ventura's trade mission to Japan. Ventura announced a new export deal for a farmer-owned pork packaging company from western Minnesota, and hailed the contract as the best hope for family farmers who want to preserve their way of life.
A controversy over the cost of higher education caught up with Governor Ventura on the second day of his visit to Japan. The Board of MnSCU has been considering closing down its Japan campus, citing the high cost of supporting a school with low enrollment. The possibility of a shutdown spurred students from the Japan campus to rally outside the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo to try to get Governor Ventura on their side.
Governor Ventura started his first full day in Japan with a nod, or bow, to his wrestling background, and he's also getting the first real sense of how well-known he is Japan, and for what reasons.
Governor Ventura leaves Monday on a ten-day trade mission to Japan. This isn't the first time a Minnesota governor has gone there; Governor Carlson visited there in 1992, but it is safe to say this is the first governor with some name-recognition among the Japanese.
What happens to the Reform Party in Minnesota with Patrick Buchanan as its standard-bearer.
Arne Carlson has joined the pantheon of former governors whose portraits hang in the hallways of the state Capitol.
State Senator Steve Kelley has added his name to the list of DFLers vying to challenge U.S. Senator Rod Grams in 2000.
Republican incumbent Rod Grams was the candidate with the most money in the bank for the 2000 U.S. Senate race. That title now goes to Democrat Michael Ciresi, who officially entered the race and brought with him the millions of dollars he earned on Minnesota's landmark tobacco lawsuit last year.
Ventura visits Harvard students and faculty behind closed doors, and says they seem to appreciate him more than reporters do.
Governor Ventura took his cabinet to Mankato yesterday for the official roll-out of what he calls his "Big Plan." The Plan is the governor's comprehensive vision for the rest of his term in office, and it emphasizes his philosophy of governing, rather than offering specific new policy proposals. The few legislators who attended the speech reacted with caution, and at least one lawmaker says he has a hard time taking Ventura's policy statements seriously, in light of Ventura's Playboy interview.
Governor Ventura continued to dismiss the criticism of his interview in Playboy Magazine Friday. On his weekly radio show, he called the controversy a "rhubarb," and blamed it on news media that misinterprets him and a political culture that can't handle honesty. The state's more-traditional political leaders, meanwhile, say they still hope the governor will reconsider his position and offer an apology; they say his defiant attitude could hurt his relationship with the Legislature.
Governor Ventura has offered an explanation for the controversial interview he gave Playboy magazine, but he's stopping short of an apology.
Opponents of Minnesota's new education system say it's the first step in stripping some personal freedoms. They say the Profile of Learning will be the hottest political topic in next year's legislative races.
As summer winds down, Minnesota's political operatives are turning their attention to the next statewide election: the U.S. Senate seat on the ballot in November, 2000. The race is getting special attention from national political strategists, as Democrats see an opportunity to defeat Rod Grams, a Republican incumbent who's not doing well in opinion polls. But state and national Republican leaders say they're confident in Grams' ability to hold the seat.