Wellstone scores a decisive victory

Chris Vetter

The Minneapolis Convention Center was rocking late Tuesday night, as Paul Wellstone defeated Rudy Boschwitz to retain his U.S. Senate seat. The victory results were announced almost immediately at 8:00 p.m., as voting booths closed throughout the state.
Wellstone arrived at the convention center in his trademark green bus, and took the stage before an ecstatic crowd shortly after 9:30, thanking the people for their help.
“We couldn’t have done it without you,” Wellstone told to supporters. “We won the race! We did it together! We thank all of Minnesota, and we thank all of you.”
The convention center was host to several Democratic candidates from around the state for the evening. Candidates and constituents cheered each time televisions flashed victory predictions for Wellstone.
Matt Van Itallie, the deputy communications director for the Wellstone campaign, said he was not surprised by the early results declaring Wellstone the victor.
“Last week, all the polls showed us with a double-digit lead,” Van Itallie said. “It was a very decisive victory.
With supporters chanting “six more years,” Wellstone promised to focus his second term on issues such as affordable housing and child care, and a renewed call for single-payer health care.
Wellstone’s lead over Boschwitz widened in the days leading up to the election, according to recent polls. After the race narrowed to one percentage point in a Star Tribune/KARE-11 poll on Sept. 10, Wellstone pushed his lead to nine, then 13 points.
Wellstone had been a target of the National Republican Party all year. The party spent nearly $2 million on radio and television ads linking Wellstone to big government and frivolous spending.
When asked if Boschwitz’s allegations that Wellstone was involved in a flag-burning incident during the 1960s helped his lead, Wellstone said he wouldn’t comment because he only wanted to focus on the positive. But Wellstone said he holds no ill will towards Boschwitz.
“I wish Rudy Boschwitz and his family the very best,” he said.
Wellstone repeatedly thanked his supporters on behalf of his entire family for their help in his grass-roots campaign effort.
“We love you all,” Wellstone said. “Let’s go on and do well.”