Wellstone listed among top 50 U.S. legislators

Erin Ghere

As Congressional Quarterly named U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., one the 50 most effective members of Congress, Wellstone was on the Senate floor arguing for small family farms, a DFL spokesperson said.
Wellstone, first elected in 1990, read aloud letters from family farmers fighting against large agribusinesses as the congressional publication released the list to be published in its Oct. 30 edition.
Congressional Quarterly selected 50 legislators who exemplified skills in 12 broad categories. The list contained 26 Republicans and 24 Democrats.
“We relied on the skills our reporters and editors use every day to identify interesting and influential players in this Congress,” said David Rapp, Congressional Quarterly’s executive editor.
Last October, Wellstone spoke to University students at the Superblock in an event sponsored by the campus Democrats.
“Wellstone has always been present for the College Democrats,” said Kevin Nicholson, chairman of the College Democrats of America.
“He is one of the few people you can count on through thick and thin,” he said. Nicholson is a University student but is taking the semester off to serve as chairman in Washington D.C.
“He’s active, he’s local and he knows how to get students involved,” said Amber Wobschall, former chairwoman of the Minnesota College Democrats.
She said Wellstone appeals to younger voters.
Wellstone has also fought for reforms that affect college students in other ways, including increased Pell Grants and a higher minimum wage.
Along with supporting higher education, Wellstone has been outspoken on family farms, working people, minimum wage and labor, said Karen Louise Boothe, Minnesota DFL communications director.
“Senator Wellstone’s work on agriculture issues is what has earned him such recognition,” said Mike Erlandson, the DFL party chairman.
“He has worked tirelessly on the Senate floor lately, particularly on agricultural issues,” Boothe said.
Wellstone is currently supporting an amendment calling for an 18-month temporary halt to antitrust agribusiness mergers.
“They exercise raw economic and political agribusiness and family farms,” said Andrew McDonald, Wellstone spokesperson.
“Senator Wellstone exemplifies all that the DFL stands for in this state,” Boothe said. “He’s really out there working for the average Minnesotan and the working family.”
In the past year, Wellstone has led legislation to streamline work-training programs to make them more accessible, increased funding for veterans health care by $1.7 million and extended mental-health coverage.
He is currently trying to obtain prescription-drug benefits under Medicare, McDonald said.
“He works hard for Minnesota,” he added, “and he’s proud to represent Minnesota.”

Erin Ghere covers faculty and state government and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3217.