FiveThirtyEight, ESPN unveil Ventura election doc that gets it right

I was particularly interested to view FiveThirtyEight/ESPN’s new documentary on Gov. Jesse Ventura to see if it fell victim to the ongoing attempts by the Democratic and Republican parties to write the history of the state by treating the election of 1998 as a state suffering the effects of an Election Day kegger.

Ventura became a legitimate contender the night he was allowed to debate on the same stage as Republican gubernatorial candidate Norm Coleman and DFL gubernatorial candidate Skip Humphrey. They spoke politician and Ventura decidedly did not.

In his book on Ventura, Jake Tapper observed that reporters were much more upset by Ventura’s populism than people were. That’s the funny thing about populism.

There’s plenty of debate about the weirdness of Ventura. But his election made sense and happened for a good reason — a message that Republican and DFL operatives spent years ignoring.

The verdict on the documentary? It succeeds because, unlike a lot of the accounts of the time, it doesn’t suggest that Minnesota voters were idiots.