Don't underestimate Dean Barkley, the second most qualified candidate


Sen. Norm Coleman and Al Franken are spotlight hogs. So what happens when the national spotlight turns to the other opponent, Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley?

Pure chaos.

No, not really, but we'd love to watch the entire election for Senate crumble as Barkley emerges from the rubble of burning Playboys, suspected rent deals and unpaid tax forms.

The Wall Street Journal has a rather lengthy article on Barkley, a national unknown in a race closely watched by political pundits across the country. Barkley is the founder of the Minnesota Independence Party and stole the political spotlight in 1998 as the mastermind behind pro-wrestler Jesse Ventura's shocking win for governor.

Barkley was also a senator in 2002 when Ventura called on him to finish the remaining days of Sen. Paul Wellstone's term after he died.

So why does Barkley have a shot? According to WSJ:

Polls show Mr. Barkley with as much as 14% support among likely voters, and his candidacy is cutting into the support of Sen. Coleman and Democrat Al Franken, a former humorist and radio host. The two major-party candidates have been waging one of the country's most aggressive and expensive Senate races.

"Voters are sick of the nasty ads," said Mr. Barkley. "In a two-person race you can probably get away with it, but with a third viable alternative, there's a place to go. If you don't like what you're seeing, you don't have to put up with it."

The charted trend is also evident in the Star Tribune story about the negative ads. As the ads get nasty and both candidates start taking cheap shots, voters from both sides might run for the third wheel.

The one problem with the story? It gives Coleman too much credit. He was never governor of this fine state, only a Democratic mayor turned Republicans as the national tide began to turn.

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