A happy Tom Horner personally served notice Friday that his Independence Party campaign for governor had crossed an important threshhold. It had collected more than the 700 $50 contributions required to qualify for a public campaign subsidy later this year, with three days to spare before the deadline. If he wins the IP primary, his campaign stands to receive an estimated $241,500 in time for the general election, according to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board.
A quick Google search unearthed an explanation for Horner's excitement. An analysis of Gov. Jesse Ventura's 1998 victory by state Senate counsel Peter Wattson, dating from 1999, is entitled "How Minnesota's campaign finance law helped elect a third-party governor." It relates how Ventura's ability to borrow money against that year's expected $310,000 public subsidy for gubernatorial candidates made it possible for him to air TV ads and do a credibility-building campaign tour just before the election. Lacking those things, most analysts believe that Ventura would not have been the winner of that year's three-way race.
Horner -- who isn't known to look good in a feather boa -- isn't modeling his campaign after Ventura's. But 12 years and the rise of the Internet don't appear to have changed one aspect of Minnesota gubernatorial campaigns: A candidate must advertise on television to be taken seriously.