DFL delegates line up behind former VP Walter Mondale

Andrew Pritchard

Cheering DFL delegates needed less time to nominate Walter Mondale than he needed to walk through the crowd to the podium and accept.

“Tonight the nation, in fact the whole world, is watching Minnesota, not just to see who will win but how we conduct ourselves,” said Mondale, who will replace U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone as the democratic Senate candidate in Tuesday’s election.

“If there were ever a time to put aside political dog fighting, now is the time,” he said.

Wellstone and seven others were killed Friday in a plane crash near Eveleth, Minn.

Mondale, who represented Minnesota in the Senate from 1964-76 and served as vice president under Jimmy Carter, had been rumored to be the DFL’s pick after Wellstone’s family asked him to run.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mondale had said he would run on the DFL ticket if the party asked him to.

The convention of approximately 900 members of the DFL’s State Central Committee began at the Historic State Theatre in Minneapolis with a moment of silence to remember those killed in the crash.

State party Chairman Mike Erlandson said he often asked McEvoy to co-chair party meetings, and his voice broke as he named her the evening’s honorary co-chairwoman.

“The thing we know about Mary McEvoy was that she never took her seat up here on the stage,” Erlandson said. “She was always out there with you folks.”

After delegates nominated Mondale, the crowd responded with a standing ovation and chants of, “We want Fritz.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roger Moe called Wellstone the party’s standard-bearer, then introduced Mondale.

“He has worked with us, mourned with us and paved the way for us,” Moe said.

Mondale made his way down the aisle surrounded by Wellstone volunteers, shaking hands with delegates while U2’s “Beautiful Day” filled the theater.

Mondale drew laughter from the delegates when he said he’d heard he was nominated “by a close vote.”

Mondale said he recalled Wellstone asking him to accompany him down the Senate aisle when Wellstone presented his credentials at the start of his first term in 1990.

“I will be your voice and I will be (Sen.) Paul Wellstone’s voice for decency and hope,” Mondale said.

He reminded delegates that as vice president, he had been president of the Senate from 1976-80.

“If I return to the Senate,” he said, “I will be, under the rules, immediately part of the leadership of that great body.”

After his service in the Senate and as vice president, Mondale campaigned unsuccessfully for president in 1980 and 1984.

For his 1984 campaign, Mondale picked New York Rep. Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, the first woman to run on a major-party presidential ticket.

Mondale retired from politics after his defeat that year but served as ambassador to Japan from 1993-96 and authored a book, “The Accountability of Power: Toward a More Responsible Presidency.”

The University renamed its law building Mondale Hall in May 2001 to honor its alumnus from the Class of 1956.

Mondale said that if elected again, he would fight for families, workers, corporate accountability, entitlement reform and environmental protection.

He also said the United States should not confront Iraq alone and should have strength through values and freedom as well as a powerful military.

“It is not enough to threaten our enemies with our weapons,” Mondale said. “We must attract our friends with our values. Iraq is dangerous, but going it alone is dangerous too.”

Delegates gave Mondale’s speech a standing ovation as Democratic elected officials and Wellstone volunteers wearing “stand up, keep fighting” T-shirts joined him on stage.

Thursday, Mondale will give radio interviews and host a town meeting at Macalester College’s Kagin Commons, beginning at 2:15 p.m.

Friday, Mondale is expected to join Republican Norm Coleman, Independence Party candidate Jim Moore and the Green Party’s Ray Tricomo for a 7 p.m. debate to be broadcast live on KSTP-TV.

Senate candidates were scheduled to debate Monday, but the event was canceled because of Wellstone’s death.

Hennepin absentee ballots

hennepin County voters casting absentee ballots can write in the new DFL Senate candidate or change their votes on ballots they have already mailed, the county’s public affairs office announced in a written statement Wednesday.

County voters who have not yet mailed their absentee ballots can vote for Mondale by putting his name on the ballot’s “write-in” line and filling in the oval.

Voters who have already cast absentee ballots and want to change their votes can call Hennepin County Elections at (612) 348-5151 and request replacement and supplemental ballots. Those voters should tell the clerk they have already mailed absentee ballots.

Hennepin County voters can also ask for new absentee ballots at their polling places Tuesday. Their old absentee ballots will be voided.

The county announced that because Senate ballots must be counted by hand this year, the county’s election returns will not be available until after midnight Tuesday.

Hennepin County contains nearly one-quarter of the state’s population.

In the 2000 elections, approximately 42,000 county voters cast absentee ballots.


Andrew Pritchard covers state politics and welcomes comments at [email protected]