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Minnesota: Barkley Mulls Return to Place He Visited Briefly

Former Sen. Dean Barkley (ID), who served for two months in the Senate six years ago following the death of former Sen. Paul Wellstone (D), is contemplating running again for his old seat. Currently Sen. Norm Coleman (R) is getting a hearty challenge from comedian Al Franken (D) in one of the most competitive Senate races of the cycle.

Barkley was appointed to the Senate in 2002 by then-Gov. Jesse Ventura (ID), who has also shied away from, but not ruled out, running in the race.

“I’m thinking about it,” Barkley told Minnesota Public Radio. “I think that race begs for a centrist Independent who will tell it like it is. I’m waiting to see if my former boss is actually going to do it, Jesse Ventura. If he decides he’s not, I’m thinking about it. I’ll make up my mind in the next two to three weeks.”

Relative to other states, Independent candidates in Minnesota often have an impact on the race — and sometimes even take statewide office. Ventura won a single term as governor in 2002, and former Democratic Rep. Tim Penny ran for governor on the Independence Party line and got 15 percent of the vote.

An Independent candidacy from Barkley, Ventura or another campaign could alter this already-close race. Publicly released polls show Franken within striking distance of Coleman, but the most recent poll gave the Senator a 7-point advantage.

— Shira Toeplitz

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