After Jesse Ventura said he would not to run for the U.S. Senate, his political mentor, Dean Barkley, decided to throw his hat in the ring.

He’s joining a race led by incumbent Norm Coleman and comedian Al Franken.

Barkley, who had been considering a bid, was Ventura’s campaign manager in his 1998 gubernatorial run, and he’ll actually be running for a seat he briefly held when he was appointed to briefly fill the uncompleted term of Paul Wellstone after he died in a plane crash in 2002.

Ventura told Larry King on Monday that he would not run — but held out changing his mind if he got some sort of divine intervention. That didn’t happen, apparently, and Ventura apparently spent the day golfing.

Barkley told the StarTribune, "I think the opportunity is there," he said. "Anyone with a brain can see that in Minnesota and nationwide, people are pretty well disgusted with both parties. There’s room for a viable independent if you can get your message out."

Although Ventura didn’t get in the race, his trail balloons may have hurt Franken. Ventura polled almost evenly with Franken in a recent KSTP poll, although such measurements can be skewed before a candidate gets into the race.

Nevertheless, it seems to have invited serious challengers to point out Franken’s vulnerabilities. Priscilla Lord Faris filed to run against Franken in the Democratic primary in September, and is banking on raising $1 million to $2 million for her bid. She comes from a well known Minnesota family and is the daughter of retired U.S. District Judge Miles Lord.

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