Minnesota’s historical success of placing third party candidates on the ballot usually begins and ends with Jesse Ventura. In a report released earlier this summer, the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance also showed Ventura’s legacy in sustaining third party success in the state.

‘Success’ is, of course, a relative term: for third parties it is first to get on the ballot and second to make at least a ripple in the outcome of the race (receiving a just few percent of the vote can often alter the shape of an election).

But the prominence of third parties in the Gopher State extends back well before the Ventura years. Take, for example, US House races. Since 1960 nearly one-quarter (23%) of General Election House elections had third party candidates who received at least 2% of the vote (43 of 185 races). This is by far more than any other state in the Upper Midwest. In fact, it is more than Iowa (3%), South Dakota (9%) and Wisconsin (8%) combined.

Third party candidates for will also be peppered throughout most Minnesota US House races in 2006, including candidates from the Independence, Green, Constitution, Socialist Workers, and Unity parties. A more detailed examination of these candidates will be posted here at Smart Politics in the coming weeks.