Jesse Ventura for Governor: Retaliate In '98 campaign

Judson Knight


One of the most noteworthy surprises to emerge from the nationwide elections of November 3, 1998, was the election of Jesse "The Body" Ventura as governor of Minnesota. A former professional wrestler who had appeared alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and others in a number of action movies, Ventura had served as a Navy SEAL and in 1990 had become mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. His showmanlike antics, his outspoken nature, and his appearance—Ventura had an impressive physique and a shaved head—had certainly attracted notice; but much of the credit for his electoral success went to Bill Hillsman, president of North Woods Advertising of Minneapolis. With a budget of just $500,000—as opposed to some $13 million in combined spending by Democratic opponent Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey and Republican Norman Coleman—Hillsman and North Woods managed to craft some of the most memorable ads of the 1998 elections. The overall Ventura theme was "Retaliate in '98," and prominent television spots included "Action Figure" and "Jesse the Mind."