BEST VICTIM - 2001
Poor Jerry. After serving six terms in the Minnesota House and Senate, the native Iron Ranger/bar owner played it by the book last year when he made a bid for the DFL nomination for U.S. Senate. Following the traditional populist road to DFL glory, Janezich lined up union backing, worked the party delegates, and generally paid his dues. After nailing down the DFL endorsement at the party convention last June, the earnest and plainspoken Janezich could hardly be faulted if he'd dropped a deposit on a D.C. apartment. After all, incumbent Rod Grams was widely regarded as being among the most vulnerable members of the Senate. In the months leading up to the primary, however, Janezich got a brutal lesson in new-style DFL politics, as his three wealthy opponents pried open their wallets and waged a television ad war on a scale never before seen in this state. In the end department-store heir Mark Dayton spent nearly $12 million of his own money to get elected--a total surpassed nationwide only by New Jersey Democrat Joe Corzine. The other two DFL hopefuls--trial attorney Mike Ciresi and developer Rebecca Yanisch--never made it beyond the primary but still wound up as the fifth- and seventh-biggest self-funders in all U.S. Senate races during the 2000 election cycle. Janezich, a barkeep by trade, never had a chance.