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.
“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.