U.S. Senate candidate Dean Barkley readily acknowledges he's no Jesse Ventura. But he made a Ventura-sized claim on his brand-new campaign website that proclaimed him "The Most Effective Senator in Minnesota History."
Really, Dean? And those guys Ramsey and Kellogg and Humphrey and Mondale -- just chopped liver?
"I agree, we're going to tone that down a bit," Barkley said Wednesday, adding that he had laid eyes on the website himself only a short time before.
Barkley said the slogan was lifted by adman Bill Hillsman from a Ventura quote issued Tuesday, when Barkley filed to run for the Senate: "Measured minute by minute," Ventura said, "Dean Barkley is the most effective senator in Minnesota history."
Barkley served two months in the Senate -- Nov. 5, 2002, to Jan. 3, 2003 -- when Ventura appointed him to fill the unexpired term of Paul Wellstone, who was killed in a plane crash in late October. During that period, the Senate was in session for only eight days, giving Barkley little time to work.
But he pointed out that he played key roles on three important matters: creation of the Department of Homeland Security, preservation of Minnesota's welfare-to-work program and funding for the expansion of St. Paul's Neighborhood House as a memorial to Wellstone and his wife, Sheila.
Barkley was one of a handful of centrists that voted to kill a Democratic amendment that would have stalled the Homeland Security bill, then traded his support for the bill for a pledge from the Bush administration that Minnesota wouldn't have to revamp its successful welfare program.
At an Oval Office signing ceremony, then-Sen. Mark Dayton genially mentioned that Barkley had gotten more done in two days than he had in two years. According to Barkley, President Bush squinted at Dayton and said, "Sen. Dayton, if I were you I wouldn't be saying that. He may run against you one day."
Dayton, a Democrat elected in 2000, did not seek reelection in 2006.
Barkley plans to point to his brief tenure in the Senate as proof he already knows how to work there. "I've got a short track record, but look at what I got done," he said Tuesday.
In the meantime, Barkley said he will talk to Hillsman about shrinking his historical standing just a bit.
"We're going to put the whole quote in there," he said. "It's a little overboard."
Barkley's website is www.senatorbarkley.com.
Kevin Duchschere • 612-673-4455