Six years ago, …

by Tracy Ellingson

Six years ago, Paul Wellstone went to Washington on his green bus to fight for a universal health care plan, increase the minimum wage and help students receive a more affordable higher education.
For the second time in this decade, the former Carleton College political science professor is pitted against Republican opponent Rudy Boschwitz. Only this time Wellstone has an established voting record that his opponent is using to position the senator as “embarrassingly liberal” and “un-Minnesotan”.
To counter Boschwitz, Wellstone has positioned himself as an advocate for working families and a leader who will bring Minnesota values to Washington. He has tried to emphasize the positive and said at a recent campaign rally that Minnesotans reject dirty politics.
Wellstone still stresses the grassroots efforts which got him to Washington initially. The second campaign has brought voters a more practical, experienced senator rather than the idealistic, first-time candidate they saw in 1990.
During this year’s election, Wellstone has appealed to the average American working family. Issues such as promoting livable wages and affordable education, maintaining environmental standards, reducing violence in communities and supporting small businesses are strong planks in his platform.
Coming back to campaign after this year’s controversial Senate session, Wellstone has had to defend some of his positions on issues including the Defense of Marriage Act and his opposition to the welfare reform bill.
Wellstone, whom the gay and lesbian community has lauded for his general support, voted in favor of the controversial Defense of Marriage Act. The act officially recognizes marriage as a union between a man and a woman and allows states to not honor same-sex marriages performed in other states. Wellstone has maintained a relatively substantial amount of support from the gay and lesbian community despite his vote.
Candace Gingrich, sister of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., and activist for gay and lesbian rights, came to Minnesota last week to rally support for Wellstone.