Barkley on Senate recount: ‘Fitting end to the worst campaign in Minnesota history’

Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley, shown pre-election, is bemused by the contentious ending to Minnesota's contentious three-way U.S. Senate race.
MinnPost photo by Bill Kelley
Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley, shown pre-election, is bemused by the contentious ending to Minnesota’s contentious three-way U.S. Senate race.

For those out there who might be suffering from recount burnout, Dean Barkley feels your pain.

“It’s kind of like getting dog stuff on your shoe,” says Barkley, the third wheel in Minnesota’s tumultuous Al Franken-Norm Coleman Senate race. “You can wipe it off, but you just can’t get away from the smell.”

For all the posturing and counterpunching from the two camps as the vote margin fluctuates, the Independence Party’s Barkley is as bemused as anyone.

“It’s a fitting end to the worst campaign in Minnesota history, the campaign that will not go away,” the former U.S. senator said in a telephone interview Thursday. “It’s no different than the campaign. It’s the hatred both of them have with each other. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Barkley hasn’t been watching every twist and turn in the recount — he just returned last week after a trip to Texas. “I haven’t exactly been glued to the television set,” he said.

And for what it’s worth, Barkley is confident that the true winner will prevail. “I’d say it’s going to be Coleman, just because he has more votes right now,” Barkley says. “But our election system will work. The board that [Secretary of State] Mark Ritchie set up will do a fair job.”

Nasty emails a fine example of free speech
As affable as Barkley can be, he bristles at the notion that he’s responsible for the deadlock. “Absolutely not. That whole bizarre attitude is the height of arrogance over the two-party system,” he said. “Nobody owns votes.”

Nevertheless, some citizens have let the candidate know how they really feel about his role in the race, and Barkley forwarded some rather choice emails to MinnPost. (All were signed, but the names have been dropped by MinnPost.) Some highlights:

• That’s okay, no reply necessary. I just wanted you to know that in your strutting, imbecile pomposity, all you have managed to do is to KEEP a progressive candidate from joining the senate. Six more years of that corrupt, right-wing slimebag Coleman will be your legacy. Congratulations, you asshole. 

• Dean, you’re okay but you’re not so great that it was worth losing the election to f—ing Coleman over your run. As another really icky Republican has said famously, “Thanks but no thanks.” I’m a New Deal, FDR Democrat/Green. And we’re stuck with that empty suit for another f—ing four years.

• “Nadered” your state. This isn’t Canada! Acting as if we have something other than a two party system, (at present) is delusional. Your principles have weakened your principles and damaged your state. I, (sarcastically) hope that you’re proud, or, (more pertinently) well paid.

• I’m not a citizen of Minnesota. I don’t know anything about you other than that you lost. (I have a feeling it’s probably not the first time.) However, if Al Franken goes to Congress, it will be the greatest travesty and mockery of the election process since, well, Jesse the Body. And I’ll cast my blame on you, personally.

• If Franken wins, it’s YOUR fault!! get OUT of politics!!!!! we don’t SPOILERS like YOU!!

• I am absolutely furious with you, your candidate, and every one of your staff members and volunteers. It is obvious at this point that Al Franken would have EASILY won and we could have had real change, attainable, actual, achievable active change in the United States Senate. Between him and President Obama, amazing things could have been done. I hope you can find a way to sleep at night. I can’t believe it. I am a terminally ill man with a progressive neurological disease and I gave EVERY LAST OUNCE of effort throughout this campaign to get rid of the evil that is the Republican Party, and you have just denied me my last dream. Sleep tight.

Barkley has a thick enough skin that it doesn’t bother him. “I just feel sorry for some of them,” he said.

Any regrets?

“I just wish I could have raised a million dollars so I could have won the race, instead of $150,000 up against $40 million,” he said. “But we gave voters an option, and got the highest number of votes in any of our other Senate races.”

Barkley did offer one bit of silver lining in the recount drama: “It’s good employment for a lot of lawyers.”

G.R. Anderson Jr. covers politics, the state Capitol and issues related to public safety.

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Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 11/21/2008 - 09:27 am.

    Barkley who?

    However, I DO wish a judge could slap a gag order on Franken, Coleman and their surrogates. Please, just SHUT UP and let our system work.

  2. Submitted by Paul Scott on 11/21/2008 - 11:12 am.

    This notion that Barkely is above the fray, oh mercy me, of a modern campaign for the United States Senate is tedious and disingenuous. I found him to be straightforward and reasonable enough in the debates, but his “pox on both your houses” act — probably the only unifying principle of the Independence Party anymore — is only made possible by the fact that he never had enough support to come under serious attack. It also is a false equivalency argument, the classic monkey with its hands over its ears position that believes that pointing out the bad votes of an elected official (Franken’s campaign) is somehow the same as pointing out the bad jokes of your challenger (Coleman’s campaign). By the way, if we are to believe the current winner of the Nobel prize for economics, Barkeley’s budget freeze deficit reduction plan would have propelled us headlong into a depression.

  3. Submitted by Ginny Martin on 11/21/2008 - 11:57 am.

    If this campaign doesn’t cry out for instant runoff voting runoff (IRV), I don’t know what does. Maybe the campaigns would have been more civil, although I doubt it. At least we wouldn’t have this post-election nastiness.

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 11/21/2008 - 12:30 pm.

    “…a progressive neurological disease”

    Someday, science will find a cure for Democratia.

    Seriously though, Barkley is right. Whether Franken successfully steals this election or not, this Senate seat is tainted, and will remain so until we can elect a decent candidate.

    Trouble is, I fear the Yeti will be discovered before a decent political candidate appears on the horizon in Minnesota.

  5. Submitted by Tom Ruen on 11/21/2008 - 01:25 pm.

    It’s reassuring to have “You spoiler” letters on both sides! The IP does its job well!

    My vote for Barkley stands taller every day, no regrets! 15.3% is a great measure for voter discontent, and I’m sure many-a-candidate in the future will remember this election and ask themselves how they want to present their case.

    I just don’t see how this can end well. No recount is going to create a comfortable margin for either candidate.

    I think they should flip a coin in the end – when we’ll have a 100 vote margin and 1600 “challenged ballots”! Humility is a good thing, and a coin is much cheaper than lawyers!

  6. Submitted by Leslie Davis on 11/21/2008 - 01:49 pm.

    In the spring/summer of 2008, Pat Kessler of WCCO-TV, interviewed Dean Barkley.
    Barkley had just gotten promoted from bus driver to executive at Metro Mobility, a company that provides special bus services.
    Barkley told Kessler, on the air, in two separate sentences, that he would not be a candidate for U.S. Senate, but Jesse Ventura might be. Then Jesse and company ran the table on the public for several months. Back to the article’s subject.
    Shortly after the interview with Pat Kessler of WCCO-TV, Dean Barkley was fired.

  7. Submitted by Terry Hayes on 11/21/2008 - 04:00 pm.

    Barkley is an ass. Coleman ran a nasty campaign. Franken did not. Can Barkley remember as far back as 2002 when the Coleman campaign distorted the events at Paul Wellstone’s memorial service to make themselves look so superior in ‘tone’ to those mangy Democrats? It doesn’t get much nastier than that.

    Thanks for nothing, Barkley. I hope we don’t have to look at your smug self-righteous face in any future elections.

  8. Submitted by Dick Novack on 11/22/2008 - 06:07 pm.

    Mr. Swift, re your comment about qualified candidates. In a 1965 advanced political science class, a famous professor taught us that it takes a tremendous egotist to think they can run things for the rest of us (the electorate / citizens), and that is, in fact, the person who usually runs for a political office above the level of dog catcher. He further taught that those that would be really qualified to manage our government are also wise enough to not want the job. Only a few of those have ever been successfully drafted with the last example being Eisenhower. Nothing has really changed, has it? The egotists still dominate the candidates and the qualified still run for the hills.

  9. Submitted by Rex McKee on 11/22/2008 - 08:30 pm.

    I would hope that Mr Barkley would support instant run off elections…this would be an excellent example of where this would indeed benefit our process. Although I did not vote for him, I do respect much of what he argued for….but he did not fully fulfill my self interest as well as Al Franken.
    Although I am not yet convinced that this democracy is ready for a multi party system, I do respect the work of those like Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont
    Personally, I hope Franken wins…Coleman is not to be trusted and I believe more will be brought forward as time progresses. I trust the CREW reporting that he is the 4th most corrupt active politician.
    Finally, it is a great thing that we live in a state where there is transparent, honest elections and this recount can proceed in a legal organized manner. I am likewise glad I do not live in Florida or other states, where it appears voting nearly requires a fight, and access is limited and suspect.

    so it goes.

  10. Submitted by Jeff Kline on 11/24/2008 - 02:20 am.

    I don’t understand all this “spoiler” stuff myself. The votes are indeed what really counts. There has been speculation by many over recent years that much of this country doesn’t really have a democracy and that its only an illusion. Sometimes I wonder if that isn’t true based on some things I’ve seen from time to time. However this recount thing really is only a formality. I hypothesize that even if we get a 100 vote difference in favor of Mr. Coleman, and they declare Coleman as the winner, Mr. Franken will still bring many suits trying to overturn it and force a Senate choice instead. Thereby removing the voters from the choices. He seems to know something that the rest of us do not.

  11. Submitted by Maddie Corrigan on 11/25/2008 - 03:32 pm.

    I’m as much an advocate as any of you for being vocal about who and what we support. But, I find some of the comments, both within the article and in response to it, monotonous and unduly. And my reason is this: we’re all given our individual chance to vote for a reason. To blame a party candidate for running is rediculous because it is the voters that will determine the outcome. Why should we be denied the opportunit to vote for the candidate of our choice just because it might reduce the margins. Last I checked it was a free country when it came to voting, and I sure know when I cast my vote I’ll have my priorties at heart, not yours or your party’s.

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