On December 29, 2006, the New York Times repeated a factual error that it has repeated many times in the past. In an article titled “In Minnesota Shift, Case Study for National Political Shake-up”, reporter Kirk Johnson says that Jesse Ventura was elected Governor in 1998 as an independent.
The truth is that the Reform Party recruited Jesse Ventura to be its candidate for Governor in 1998. He won the Reform Party primary and then he won the general election. Because he was the Reform Party nominee, he received equal public funding with his major party opponents, and he received the top line on the general election ballot. As Governor, he played an important role in the Reform Party nationally. He endorsed Jack Gargan for national chair, and Gargan was elected national chair in 1999, against the wishes of Ross Perot. When a special national convention of the Reform Party in 2000 removed Gargan as national chair, Ventura and the entire Minnesota Reform Party disaffiliated from the national Reform Party and the Minnesota Reform Party changed its name to the Independence Party. The Independence Party of Minnesota is still a ballot-qualified party. It elected a State Senator in 2002 and in 2006 polled 7% for Governor. It is unfortunate that the New York Times cannot tell the truth about this bit of important history.