In appointing Dean Barkley, the head of Minnesota's Planning Agency, to fill out the remainder of Paul Wellstone's Senate term, Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura has actually made a surprisingly respectable choice. The outgoing governor has been having another one of his very public temper tantrums ever since participants in the Wellstone memorial service booed his presence, and the ex-Navy Seal vowed to retaliate by nominating an "ordinary person," like a garbageman, to the seat.
Al Garcia is one frustrated Democratic campaign manager. A criminal defense lawyer by trade and a 20-year veteran of Minnesota politics, he ran two candidates for the state assembly in 1998. Both were in Anoka County, ground zero of the Jesse Ventura vote. One candidate, Jerry Newton, a decorated Vietnam veteran and small-business owner, fiscally conservative but very supportive of public schools and the environment, lost badly to a far-right pro-lifer as the voters who turned out for Ventura voted for Republican state representatives down the ballot. Garcia's other candidate, Luanne Koskinen, an incumbent with strong labor backing, barely held onto her office.