Former Gov. Jesse Ventura met with advisers on Friday to map out what a quick leap into Minnesota's U.S. Senate race might look like, although advisers say he still has not made a final decision.
That will be revealed on national television Monday night.
"He's playing this one pretty tight," said Dean Barkley, who managed the breakout race that launched Ventura into the governor's office in 1998. "He's going through all the mechanics of it, but I have no idea what he's going to decide."
Ventura, who has not talked to local political reporters since he left office in 2003, on Friday told Newsweek that he considers the race to be "wide open" with two eminently beatable candidates: incumbent U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, a Republican, and entertainer Al Franken, who secured the DFL endorsement last month.
People "want someone to shake up Washington," Ventura said in the interview. "I keep saying to myself, if not me, then who?"
Ventura met with Barkley, ad guru Bill Hillsman and former Independence Party chairman Jim Moore on Friday morning for about a half hour at the offices for Hillsman's North Woods Advertising. "We talked about the nuts and bolts of doing the race," Barkley said, including how long it would take to launch a website.
Never a fan of fundraising, Ventura likely would do most of his through the Web, Barkley said, contenting himself with raising $1 million or $2 million.
The Minnesota race has long been forecast to be one of the most expensive, combative Senate contests in the country, pitting an adept, established incumbent against a highly recognized celebrity known for his political satire. Both have raised and spent millions already. Coleman has banked more than $7 million, while Franken has more than $4 million on hand.
Ventura has described fundraising as panhandling and bribery, and in the Newsweek interview he said he would raise no more than his six-year Senate salary, about $1 million. But Ventura has demonstrated an unparalleled ability to gain free media and without even declaring his candidacy has shown that he can still do so. In addition to the Newsweek interview, Ventura recently appeared on MSNBC, and on Friday afternoon reporters received word that he would give his decision on "Larry King Live" on Monday night.
The deadline for filing is Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Barkley said Ventura told the group at Friday's meeting that he would talk things over with his wife, Terry, this weekend.
Patricia Lopez • 651-222-1288