ST. PAUL, Minn., Dec. 19 (UPI) -- When he was appointed Minnesota's interim senator last November to complete the term of the late Democratic Sen. Paul Wellstone, Independent Dean Barkley said he would consider leaving office early to give Republican senator-elect Norm Coleman a leg up in seniority.
Forget about it.
Barkley sent a letter to Gov. Jesse Ventura this week saying he saw no compelling reason to leave office before his term ends Jan. 3.
"There appears to be no compelling benefit to Senator-elect Coleman or to the people of the state of Minnesota," Barkley wrote in the letter released by Ventura's office Wednesday.
Coleman defeated former Vice President Walter Mondale in the Nov. 5 general election, just 12 days after Wellstone, his wife, their daughter and three campaign aides died in a plane crash on northern Minnesota's Iron Range.
Barkley said his research found allowing Coleman to take office a few days early would give the senator-elect seniority on other freshmen senators for small perks such as office selection and parking space but would not affect his committee assignments.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune said Barkley did add three members of Coleman's staff to his congressional payroll so they could begin setting up an office to field constituent services before Coleman is sworn in Jan. 7.
Coleman will serve on the Senate Agriculture and Government Affairs committees.
While Barkley, who managed a car wash before heading Ventura's successful campaign for Minnesota governor, remained firmly, if temporarily, on Capitol Hill, Gov.-elect Tim Pawlenty joined a group of new governors at the White House.
Pawlenty said President George W. Bush was sympathetic about rising budget shortfalls faced by the states but he offered no federal financial help.