Post-Senate race, it’s full circle for attorney Dean Barkley

Dean Barkley
Dean Barkley

Before he even was asked a
question, Dean Barkley had an answer.

“No, I don’t want to be the senator of Illinois,” the Independence Party’s candidate for Senate said. “But with Franken’s fundraising ability, he’d be a natural.”

Barkley, who in recent years has
been a campaign manager, the owner-operator of a car wash, a
Metro Mobility bus driver, a chief executive of a bus company, a U.S. senator (for a brief time), a state government administrator, a political candidate, is going back to his roots as an attorney. Barkley has accepted a position in the Bloomington law firm of Villaume and Schiek.

“I’m going back to the real world and work at saving the world one client at a time,” he said.

Barkley, who received 15 percent of the vote in the U.S. Senate race without end, doesn’t know if his days as a candidate are over.

Political future uncertain
“I have no idea what my political future is,” he said. “I didn’t have any idea I would be running this time.”

And he says he has nothing new to say about Minnesota’s Political Story of the Moment: the continued recount squabbling between the campaigns of Al Franken and Sen. Norm Coleman.

Last month, Barkley told MinnPost  of his unhappiness with how the race is turning out. “It’s kind of like getting dog stuff on your shoe,” he said in an interview then. “You can wipe it off, but you just can’t get away from the smell.”

He said at the time that the recount drama is “a fitting end to the worst campaign in Minnesota history, the campaign that will not go away. 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, 58, said he does hope to become active in the hierarchy of the Independence Party.  

“I’ve volunteered to be on the executive committee,” said Barkley, who essentially founded the IP movement in Minnesota when he ran in 1992 as a candidate for Congress under the banner of the then-Reform Party. “I’ve been out (of the party apparatus) for about 10 years. If they want to have me back, I’d be glad to offer guidance.”

He’d like to help Independence Party strengthen fundraising
The biggest area of concern is strengthening the party’s ability to raise money between elections so “each candidate doesn’t have to start from scratch.”

In his case, Barkley entered the race with nothing and spent most of October attempting to raise money. His goal was to raise $500,000, which he thought would allow him to put up some statewide commercials in what was the costliest – and ugliest – Senate race in the state’s history. He didn’t come close to reaching that goal.

Additionally, Barkley will help push the IP goal of implementing an Instant Runoff Voting system in Minnesota. That system might have spared the state the current recount – and it might have made Barkley the winner because there’s a strong chance he would have been the second choice of the majority of Minnesota voters.

“I would have been the best golfer in the Senate,” said Barkley.

But he doesn’t spend much time on the might-have-beens.  

“I’m like everybody else,” he said. “I’m most worried about my mortgage, or I would be most worried about that if I had a house. I guess you could say I’m just worried now about paying next month’s rent.”

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

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Jacob Taintor on 12/11/2008 - 12:33 pm.

    “No, I don’t want to be the senator of Illinois,” the Independence Party’s candidate for Senate said. “But with Franken’s fundraising ability, he’d be a natural.”

    Boy, for someone who advocates bi – and tri – partisanship, and civility in politics, he certainly likes to get his digs in.

  2. Submitted by Jeanne Massey on 12/11/2008 - 10:39 pm.

    The article states that Barkley might have won with Instant Runoff Voting because he would have been the 2nd choice of a majority of voters.

    This would not have been possible because IRV doesn’t work this way. IRV is just like a traditional runoff, but in a single election. In this case, Barkley was the third place candidate by a significant margin. He would have been eliminated from the race before Coleman or Franken. This means that his supporters’ votes would have been transferred to either Coleman or Franken based on 2nd preferences or to neither of them if no 2nd preference was indicated. Coleman’s and Franken’s 2nd preferences could not have been allocated to Barkley because Barkley would have been eliminated before them.

  3. Submitted by Daniel Justesen on 12/12/2008 - 09:11 am.

    Actually, Dean might have won because he really is most people’s first choice. Yet without IRV, people voted their fears instead of their hope.

    You can’t imagine the number of people who told me that they just had to “hold their nose” and vote for Norm or Al. That also froze money donations too.

  4. Submitted by Peter Tharaldson on 12/12/2008 - 11:42 am.

    Dan and Jeanne are both right…about two different things.

    The simple mechanics of IRV would have displaced the candidate in 3rd with 1st place votes.

    The huge impact of IRV is that it eliminates Durvenger’s Law, which basically says that a the economics of politics in the British, Canadian, Australian and American electoral systems support two parties. Duvenger’s Law really doesn’t work that well, adn when you can control for buying elections with big money as we do here, there are areally about 2.2 parties in similar electoral systems (LD in UK, NDP in Canada, Independents in Australia). Nevertheless, the psychology is changed, and many many more people are likely to put the Barkley’s of the world as number 1 knowing that in case he does not survive, their number 2 choice will be there.

    The Liberal Democrat Party in the UK has done extensive research on this (they are the centrist third party there who get’s the same crap we get).

    Sorry that you will never hear the Larry Jacobs of the world explain this…they just don’t want to do the homework to explain the manifestation of Duvenger in Minnesota, even though they probably should (actually…the IP has grown to a unique position of being a durable party somewhere between a big party like the Repubs or Dems and a classic American third party like the Libertarians or Greens). Its levels of support are now more similar to the Liberal Democrat Party (versus Labour and the Conservative) in the UK (ignore the party names).

    The biggest variable now…is $$$$$$$, although IRV is big. The $$$$$$ solution will allow us to translate a few elections into victories…just as center third parties can do in other pluralistic winner take all systems like our own.

    Peter Tharaldson
    CD5 Chair, IPMN

  5. Submitted by Jim Mogen on 12/13/2008 - 09:23 am.

    While I support IRV, I don’t believe IRV will help (in the long run) parties like the IP. The IP has had it “success” as a protest vote. Voters who do not feel included in the major parties and those who dislike the entire electoral system join together to cast a vote AGAINST the other two.

    Since the IP doesn’t stand for anything, at least not in the eye of the voters, this protest vote strategy won’t last. Under IRV, I believe that third parties that stand for something, the Greens, Libertarians, Nazis, or Constitutional, will gain.

    Finally, I don’t think it is fair to equate Barkley’s shortfall to the same problems that face other IP candidates (for example Dillon in the 3rd). Barkley had the name and opportunity to be heard this year. He just didn’t have any message that resonated with voters. Plus, I don’t think he does himself any favors with his barbs against the other candidates. That talk will get you 15% of the vote but not 50%.

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