Dean Barkley

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Dean Barkley
Dean Barkley.jpg
United States Senator
from Minnesota
In office
November 4, 2002 – January 3, 2003
Appointed byJesse Ventura
Preceded byPaul Wellstone
Succeeded byNorm Coleman
Personal details
Dean Malcolm Barkley

(1950-08-31) August 31, 1950 (age 70)
Annandale, Minnesota, U.S.
Political partyIndependence Party of Minnesota
Alma materUniversity of Minnesota (BA, JD)

Dean Malcolm Barkley (born August 31, 1950) is an American lawyer and politician who briefly served as a United States Senator from Minnesota from 2002 to 2003. A founder and chair of the Minnesota Reform Party (the predecessor of the Independence Party of Minnesota), he chaired Jesse Ventura's successful 1998 gubernatorial campaign; Ventura subsequently appointed him director of the state's Office of Strategic and Long Range Planning, and appointed Barkley to the U.S. Senate after the death of Paul Wellstone. Barkley ran as the Independence Party's candidate for the Senate in 2008, finishing third as Democrat Al Franken defeated Republican incumbent Norm Coleman by 312 votes.[1][2]

Barkley is now a legal partner at The Engel Firm in Minneapolis.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

Barkley was born in Annandale, Minnesota, graduating from Annandale High School in 1968.[4] He received his B.A. from the University of Minnesota in 1972 and J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1976.[4] During his university years Barkley volunteered for George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign because of his opposition to the Vietnam War.[5]

After graduating from law school, he practiced law and in 1988 became president of Dayton’s Furniture in Annandale, a position he held until 1991.[4]

Political career[edit]

Before Ventura[edit]

A founder of the Minnesota Reform Party, Barkley ran for the U.S. House in 1992, a run inspired by Ross Perot's presidential campaign,[5] and received 16% of the vote, thanks in part to Perot voters. He was also a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1994 and 1996.

Ventura and the United States Senate[edit]

Barkley meets with President George W. Bush in 2002

Barkley was chairman of Jesse Ventura's successful gubernatorial campaign in 1998. In January 1999, Ventura appointed Barkley as director of the Office of Strategic and Long Range Planning (known as Minnesota Planning).

On November 4, 2002, Ventura appointed Barkley to complete the Senate term of Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash on October 25. The appointment was announced during the Senate debate between Republican Norm Coleman and Democrat Walter Mondale, who had taken Wellstone's place on the ballot; Ventura intended to upstage the debate. Barkley served until the 107th United States Congress ended on January 3, 2003, when he was replaced by Coleman, who won the election. Ventura had previously stated that he would not appoint a replacement for Wellstone, but said he changed his mind out of disgust at Wellstone's memorial service, which he felt was used as a rally for the Democratic Party, and because the major parties refused to take the third-party senatorial candidate seriously or to allow him to participate in the debates.

During his weeks as senator, Barkley helped pass legislation establishing a memorial for Wellstone and provided a pivotal vote in clearing the final passage of the Homeland Security Act.[6]

After Ventura[edit]

After leaving office, Barkley did a stint in St. Paul as a state government lobbyist for a tobacco company, a casino, and the private prison industry.[5] Beginning in April 2005, Barkley served as director and chief strategist for Texas Independent Kinky Friedman's 2006 gubernatorial campaign.[7]

In a June 2007 interview with Minnesota Monitor, Barkley confirmed that he had been approached by Democrats in Minnesota's 6th congressional district about a possible challenge to Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann. Barkley indicated he would consider running if the DFL would support him as an independent candidate.[8]

As of May 2008 Barkley was working part-time as a bus driver for the elderly and disabled.[5] He said he enjoyed the job and saw it as a public service.[9]

2008 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

Barkley at a debate with Norm Coleman and Al Franken in 2008

Both Barkley and Ventura considered challenging Norm Coleman for reelection to the U.S. Senate seat that Barkley previously held.[9][10] On July 14, 2008, Ventura announced that he would not seek the seat, prompting Barkley to announce his candidacy. Ventura supported Barkley and donated $500 to the campaign.[11]

Despite entering the race late, Barkley was polling as high as 19% by October 1.[12] The campaign also produced two statewide radio ads featuring Barkley and Ventura.[13] Barkley, unlike many third-party and independent candidates, was included in public debates with the major party nominees; the first of five three-way debates took place October 5.[14] He received the endorsement of former U.S. Representative Tim Penny.[15] Numerous polls showed that Barkley would affect the outcome of the race.[16] Barkley raised $163,358 for his campaign (less than 1% of each of his opponents' totals).[17] He received over 435,000 votes, about 15% of the total, significantly affecting a race in which Franken defeated Coleman by only 312 votes.[18][19]

2012 Minnesota Supreme Court campaign[edit]

Barkley ran against Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice G. Barry Anderson in the 2012 election.[20] Anderson was appointed to the court by Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2004, was elected to a six-year term in 2006, and was reelected in 2012.

Post-political career[edit]

Barkley returned to law practice in Bloomington, with a general practice.[21]


Dean Barkley's senatorial papers are in the library of the Minnesota Historical Society. They include biographical files, press releases and speeches, legislative files, and issue mail.[22]

Electoral history[edit]

United States Senate election in Minnesota, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic (DFL) Al Franken 1,212,629 41.99
Republican Norm Coleman (inc.) 1,212,317 41.98
Independence Dean Barkley 437,505 15.15
Libertarian Charles Aldrich 13,923 0.48
Constitution James Niemackl 8,907 0.31
Independent Write-ins 2,365 0.08
Total votes 2,887,646 100.00
United States Senate election in Minnesota, 1996
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic (DFL) Paul Wellstone (inc.) 1,098,430 50.32
Republican Rudy Boschwitz 901,194 41.28
Independence Dean Barkley 152,328 6.98
Grassroots Tim Davis 14,139 0.65
Libertarian Roy Ezra Carlton 5,428 0.25
Resource Howard Hanson 4,381 0.20
Natural Law Steve Johnson 4,321 0.20
Socialist Workers Thomas A. Fiske 1,554 0.07
Independent Write-ins 1,130 0.05
Total votes 2,182,905 100.00
United States Senate election in Minnesota, 1994
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rod Grams 869,653 49.12
Democratic (DFL) Ann Wynia 781,860 44.17
Independence Dean Barkley 95,400 5.39
Independent Candice E. Sjostrom 15,920 0.90
Natural Law Stephen Johnson 5,054 0.29
Socialist Workers Marea Himelgrin 2,428 0.14
Total votes 1,770,315 100.00
U.S. House of Representatives election, 1992
Minnesota's 6th congressional district
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rod Grams 133,564 44.37
Democratic (DFL) Gerry Sikorski 100,016 33.23
Independence Dean Barkley 48,329 16.05
Independent James H. Peterson 16,411 5.45
Natural Law Tom Firnstahl 2,400 0.80
Independent Write-ins 303 0.10
Total votes 301,023 100.00


  1. ^ Grow, Doug (2008-07-14). "Ventura out, but ally Dean Barkley set to run for U.S. Senate". Archived from the original on 2008-07-19. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  2. ^ "Office of the State Of Minnesota Secretary of State". Retrieved 2017-01-15.
  3. ^ "Dean M. Barkley - The Engel Firm". The Engel Firm. Retrieved 2017-01-15.
  4. ^ a b c United States Congress. "Dean Barkley (id: B001237)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  5. ^ a b c d Minn.'s senator of 62 days seeks 6 more years, a July 2008 Associated Press article via the International Herald Tribune
  6. ^ In the Crossfire: Dean Barkley discusses his short career in the Senate Archived 2008-04-04 at the Wayback Machine, a November 2002 transcript of a Crossfire interview with Paul Begala and Robert Novak
  7. ^ Former U.S. Senator Dean Barkley Joins Kinky Friedman for Gov. Campaign from Kinky Friedman's website
  8. ^ Fecke, Jeff (June 13, 2007). "Could an Independent Win in the 6th? Barkley Might Challenge Bachmann". Minnesota Monitor. Minnesota Monitor.
  9. ^ a b Kessler, Pat (2008-05-07). "Barkley Back In Politics? He Says He Never Left". WCCO-TV. CBS Broadcasting. Archived from the original on May 10, 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
  10. ^ "Dean Barkley Ponders Race for Senate". MPR. 2008-05-02. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
  11. ^ "Dean Barkley: As a 'viable alternative,' he's a force that matters". Star Tribune. 2008-10-27. Archived from the original on March 24, 2009. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  12. ^ Eric Ostermeier. "Smart Politics - Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs". Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  13. ^ Contact Support Archived 2012-07-26 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ U.S. Senate candidates spar in first of five meetings Archived March 24, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Contact Support Archived 2009-01-05 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Ventura Haunts Minnesota Senate Race as Barkley Taps Voter Ire". Bloomberg News. 2008-10-20. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  17. ^ "Congressional Elections: Minnesota Senate Race: 2008 Cycle". OpenSecrets. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  18. ^ "'' Election Reporting". Archived from the original on 2012-10-17. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  19. ^ AP uncalls race due to slim margin, Minnesota Public Radio, November 5, 2008. Accessed November 8, 2008
  20. ^ Rachel E. Stassen-Berger (May 30, 2012). "Ex-Senator Barkley tries for state Supreme Court". Star Tribune: Hot Dish Politics. Minneapolis, MN. Retrieved 2012-11-03.
  21. ^ "Contact – Dean Barkley Law Practice". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  22. ^ "Dean Barkley senatorial papers". 2003-01-07. Retrieved 2012-12-24.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Party created in 1992
Minnesota Independence nominee for
U.S. Senator from Minnesota (Class 1)

Succeeded by
James Gibson
Party created in 1992
Minnesota Independence nominee for
U.S. Senator from Minnesota (Class 2)

Succeeded by
Jim Moore
Preceded by
Jim Moore
Minnesota Independence nominee for
U.S. Senator from Minnesota (Class 2)

Succeeded by
Steve Carlson
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Paul Wellstone
U.S. senator (Class 2) from Minnesota
Served alongside: Mark Dayton
Succeeded by
Norm Coleman