Newspaper Poll: Ventura's Approval Rating Dips 14 Points

Gov. Jesse Ventura's job-approval rating has fallen from a near-record high to its second-lowest level since he was elected two years ago, according to a poll conducted by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

Fifty-seven percent of Minnesotans surveyed approve of the way the pro wrestler-turned-governor does his job, down 14 points from a poll conducted in January. That's only slightly higher than the 54 percent rating he received in October 1999, when the figure reached its lowest point of his tenure.

The new poll was conducted after the Star Tribune published an interview in which Ventura, a former Navy Seal, compared his war experiences to hunting.

"Until you've hunted man, you haven't hunted yet, because you need to hunt something that can shoot back at you to really classify yourself as a hunter," Ventura told the newspaper's conservation writer.

The 1999 dip followed the publication of a Playboy magazine interview in which Ventura said: "organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people." Later, Ventura said he meant only some organized religion.

The latest drop in the rating could also be related to debate over the governor's proposed budget, which has been criticized for its education spending and proposed expansion of the state sales tax to most services.

"Given the pounding he's been getting from the special interest groups over his budget, I think it's remarkable that he has maintained a 57 percent approval rating," said Ventura spokesman John Wodele.

The poll surveyed 829 adults statewide April 5-11.