Oct. 25 is officially Wellstone Remembrance Day

Wellstone, his wife Sheila (L), and supporters in front of the famed "green bus" used in grassroots campaigns across the state. Photo courtesy of Wellstone Action.

Paul Wellstone, the popular US Senator from Eveleth, Minnesota, died fifteen years ago, today. His loss is still felt across the state. As of this morning, October 25 will forever be known in Minnesota as “Wellstone Remembrance Day” in his honor.

A staunch liberal (even called “Senator Welfare” by his predecessor Rudy Boschwitz, whom he defeated twice: first in 1990 to take his seat, and then again in a 1996 rematch), Wellstone is remembered best, and most fondly, for his grassroots approach to campaigning, bringing students and marginalized groups into politics, and for working closely with Minnesota’s Hmong communities, and veterans – he notable campaigned for the Atomic Veterans (veterans who had been exposed to ionized radiation during their service) to get compensation from the federal government.

He was also a strong advocate for peace (voting against the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and the Iraq War in 2002 – the only senator facing reelection to do so) and a strong supporter of taking action on the environment, and access to health care. He also actively supported his wife, Sheila, in her work preventing domestic violence, and supporting the rights of victims.

As Governor Mark Dayton said in the proclamation, “Paul was an extraordinary political leader. He truly believed, and practiced, ‘Politics of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ He worked passionately for the best interests of Minnesotans in Washington D.C. In today’s divisive political climate, let us remember his conviction, as well as his civility, in working tirelessly for the betterment of others.”

Which makes one wonder what the outspoken senator would have had to say about the current political climate.

“Paul and Sheila Wellstone inspired a generation of Minnesotans to take action and advocate passionately for the causes they believe in,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “They taught me and many, many others that the purpose of politics is to make people’s lives better. This is Paul and Sheila’s legacy – the simple value that, as Paul said, ‘we all do better when we all do better.’”

Wellstone was killed in a plane crash in 2002 while flying near his hometown of Eveleth. His wife, daughter Marcia, three close friends and aides, and two pilots were also killed in the crash. He was succeeded briefly in politics by Dean Barkley before Norm Coleman defeated his replacement candidate, Walter Mondale, in the 2002 election.

To read the full proclamation, head here: Paul Wellstone Remembrance Day

To learn more about the senator’s legacy, and how to get involved with ongoing programs in his name, visit www.wellstone.org