Micah Sifry

Micah L. Sifry is a senior analyst with Public Campaign.

Recent Articles

Who is Dean Barkley?

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. Instead, he picked the one person who can claim the most responsibility for building the Minnesota Independence Party into a credible third force in state politics. Barkley, who appeared to have no clue that Ventura was planning to nominate him until he got a call from a staffer telling him to don a suit and tie instead of the sweatshirt and jeans he was planning to wear to work today, just might show the Senate what it means to be a real independent in the next few weeks. Barkley is no political neophyte. A...

Finding the Lost Voters

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. Garcia's problems were hardly unique: Ventura voters across the state ended up costing Democrats control of the state assembly. Over lunch last winter at Billie's, a popular Anoka County restaurant, Garcia delivered his postmortem: Democrats had gotten whipped because they hadn't reached out to new voters--and...