By People Staff
July 08, 2002 12:00 PM

Sagging poll numbers, sky-high deficits, relentless reporters: What a drag it is being governor of Minnesota. So concluded Jesse Ventura, who on June 18 declared that he would not seek reelection. “Please don’t think I’m bitter,” said Ventura. “I’m overjoyed.”

His son Tyrel, however, may find it harder to give up the 20-room governor’s mansion. An aspiring filmmaker whom Sean Penn has taken under his wing, Tyrel, 22, reportedly used the Big House as his personal frat house. “Often there would be beer cans and wine bottles around,” says Dan Creed, the mansion’s former manager, adding that party-goers (including one who moved in for weeks, falsely claiming to have Hollywood connections) sometimes strayed into private offices and played with the computers. Some $2,000 has been spent, says Creed, to clean stained slip-covers and bedspreads and to fix an antique barleytwist chair that was “in pieces.”

Ventura, who smashed his share of chairs as a pro wrestler, apparently knew of his son’s transgressions, Creed says, even though Tyrel usually held his soirees when Ventura, 50, wife Terry, 46, and daughter Jade, 18, were at the family’s 32-acre Maple Grove ranch. One morning, Creed says, Jesse “came downstairs, saw the mess and got Tyrel out of bed to clean it up.” The security force grew so concerned, he adds, that they began collecting driver’s licenses at the door to keep track of who was in the mansion and to make sure they couldn’t drive away drunk. Tyrel promised to be more careful, says Creed, but “these were young people looking for a good time, and when you have access to the governor’s mansion, that’s special.”

The governor—who galvanized voters in 1998 as a Reform Party candidate—calls the reports “silliness.” (His son has been unavailable for comment.) Lashing out at the local press, Ventura cited his family’s lack of privacy as a reason for his exit. But Clay Steinman, chair of communication and media studies at St. Paul’s Macalester College, believes there’s a simpler explanation: “It wasn’t fun anymore.”

Tyrel might agree.