Throwing your hat in the ring has taken on a new meaning Nicknames: Who knows? If other candidates followed Jesse 'The Body' Ventura's lead, they might be winners today.

November 05, 1998|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,SUN STAFF

If Election Day 1998 taught us anything, it's that a killer nickname can be a race breaker.

Take Jesse Ventura, Reform Party candidate for governor in the sensible state of Minnesota. No one figured he had a chance to win. But Ventura donned a nickname from his pro wrestling days and slam-bam, thank you voters, Jesse "The Body" Ventura is now governor-elect of Minnesota.

In Maryland, however, Parris Glendening defied political nickname wisdom by winning a second term as governor. Glendening's nickname, "Pifflesniff," did not even become an issue in the heated contest with rival Ellen "Winkie" Sauerbrey, who at least shed her '94 nickname, "Sourgrapes."

Hindsight is always 20-something, and policy wonks yesterday debated whether Sauerbrey could have used a stronger nickname, something less winkie. Could Sauerbrey have benefited from being nicknamed "Bone-Crusher"? Or "Low Tax"? Wait, that was the moniker used by Byron (Low Tax) Looper, whose name was on the Tennessee ballot Tuesday -- even after he had been charged with killing his Democratic opponent.)

Other losing candidates in Maryland and throughout the country might also be asking themselves today: Why didn't I call myself ** "The Body"?

Larry Epstein, as predicted, lost the comptroller's race to "Willie Don" Schaefer. Consider how you might have voted had Larry "Iron Man" Epstein run.

Barbara "Babs" Mikulski won a third term in the Senate, defeating Ross Z. Pierpont, who, inexplicably, did not campaign as Ross "Perot" Pierpont.

Joseph Curran won an unprecedented (how about a "precedented" win just once?) fourth term as Maryland's attorney general. Curran defeated Paul "I'm Not" Rappaport. Voters reported confusion.

In Florida, John "Jeb" Bush defeated Kenneth "Buddy" Mac- Kay in the Battle Royal of Nicknames. Unfortunately for MacKay, the courts refused his last-minute appeal to change his ballot name to "John Glenn."

Despite great nickname recognition, Al "Grandpa" Lewis (Grandpa on the old TV series "The Munsters") failed to unseat New York Gov. George "Uncle Fester" Pataki.

C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger won a second term as Baltimore County Executive, defeating John Bishop, who reportedly changed his name to Dutch Bishopsberger.

In a shocker in North Carolina, John Edwards defeated incumbent Sen. Lauch "I Know Ken Starr and You're No Ken Starr" Faircloth. (Edwards had toyed with the nickname John "Elway" Edwards.)

And, in Indiana, Rep. Dan "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" Burton won re-election over Bobby "Kern" Hidalgo. On a side note, Kern is a convicted felon and occasional female impersonator. After his defeat, Hidalgo quietly changed his name to "Betty."

Pub Date: 11/05/98

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