Ad guru Bill Hillsman makes case for a Dean Barkley upset win in Senate race

Dean Barkley
Dean Barkley

It ain’t over till it’s over. In a long, confidential memo to the Independence Party’s Dean Barkley and his inner circle, highly regarded advertising guy (and Barkley friend) Bill Hillsman, says, “It may be a long shot, but enough factors are in place for another big upset.”

Hillsman believes that pollsters in Minnesota typically under-represent independent voters in the state. He believes that although most polls show Barkley in the mid-teens, and dropping, in reality Barkley should poll as high as 25 percent and rising.

“We’ve seen this move before,” writes Hillsman, who has gained wide political acclaim for his his attention-getting ads for Sen. Paul Wellstone’s campaigns (such as “Where’s Rudy?) and for Jesse Ventura’s gubernatorial campaign (“The Thinker”). “While the press and two other campaigns have concluded that Dean cannot win (and some have tried to portray him as a spoiler) independent Minnesota voters like underdogs and don’t like being told what is going to happen before they cast their vote.”

On the plus side for Barkley, Hillsman says, is that neither Democrat Al Franken nor Republican Sen. Norm Coleman are much loved, even by people who likely will vote for them.

On the negative side, unlike the gubernatorial race won by Jesse Ventura, there is NO public financing of Senate races. That means Barkley, who came out with his first (Hillsman-created) ad on Thursday, will not be able to blanket the state with advertising before Tuesday.

By the way, on the subject of the tone of the Senate campaign, Barkley spokesman Chris Truscott made this recent observation:  “If negative campaign ads were a crime, Norm Coleman and Al Franken would be sharing a cell in Leavenworth by now.”

Doug Grow writes about public affairs, state politics and other topics. He can be reached at dgrow [at] minnpost [dot] com.

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