Jesse Ventura

Jesse Ventura

Associated Press Writer

Feb. 1, 2001

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Gov. Jesse Ventura will draw an unlikely crowd of TV viewers during his debut Saturday as a commentator for the XFL: Minnesota lawmakers.

Lots of them.

And most will be focused on the governor’s often unpredictable mouth, waiting for an inflammatory remark to slip out.

Rep. Phil Krinkie, a frequent Ventura critic, will be watching the New York/New Jersey Hitmen take on the Las Vegas Outlaws.

“I would not otherwise probably be watching the game, but because of the governor’s involvement, I will be watching,” he said. “I’m concerned what kind of an image the governor is going to portray to the rest of the nation.

“He was very emphatic – this is no different from watching the NFL,” Krinkie said. “I have no problem leaving the NFL games on when my 5-year-old daughter is watching the television. Would I feel the same about … the XFL?”

[ad#MikeMooneyham-336×280]Sen. Dean Johnson, a Lutheran pastor, also will have youngsters in mind when he flips on his TV set.

“Saturday night especially, because a lot of moms and dads are out,” Johnson said. “A lot of children are home, free to surf the channels as they will.”

XFL officials have said their goal is to draw the same audience that the World Wrestling Federation thrives on – male viewers aged 12-24. The XFL is a joint venture between the WWF and NBC.

Many have criticized Ventura’s moonlighting in the past couple of years, but the issue has come to a boiling point over the XFL. Several lawmakers, including Krinkie, have crafted bills that would limit the governor’s outside income or force Ventura to disclose the spoils of his extracurricular jobs, something he repeatedly has refused to do.[ad#MikeMooneyham-468×15]

So far, the abbreviated list includes two books, a Broadway musical, a one-day return to the wrestling ring as a referee, regular appearances on the political talk-show circuit, a bit part in his favorite soap opera and an interview with Playboy magazine.

Now, his XFL deal will take him out of the state for 10 Saturday night games beginning this weekend. Under his contract, he can miss games if state business demands his attention.

Ventura has said repeatedly he sees no conflict of interest – that he is an XFL commentator on his own time.

But on several recent occasions, Ventura has plugged the XFL during official state business, even during a three-day tour to sell his just-released budget.

“For those of you disenchanted with the No Fun League, get ready,” Ventura said during a stop in Duluth, referring to the NFL. “You’re going to love this football. You will be part of the game. It’s video football, only with real bodies.”

Statements like that are bound to occur when a governor has two paying jobs, Krinkie said.

“When you’re governor, you can’t separate the roles, responsibilities and obligations of governor from your private life,” he said.

Johnson also expressed concern about the governor’s comments last week in Duluth.

“That promotion should be left until after the sun goes down,” he said. “In the bigger picture, I guess I think a person only has so much energy,” he said. “That energy ought to be channeled toward our job for which we were elected.”