What if Senator Paul Wellstone’s life had not ended in a plane crash 10 years ago today? Where would his political career have gone? That was essentially the question a young reporter put to Wellstone’s son David Wellstone recently. Assuming he had won his re-election bid against Norm Coleman, would he have run for president?
“I think it’s a very good possibility. I really do”, said David Wellstone. “I think because he had helped Bill Bradley, who ran for president and he was very well liked in Iowa, (Iowa) Senator (Tom) Harkin and he were the best of friends. He had done a lot of campaigning in Iowa. He had a lot of farm support in Iowa.”
Iowa is of course the first state in the nation to hold caucuses in a presidential election year. Winning there can help candidates do better in the larger primaries that follow.
But Wellstone says his father would have only run in a year that “didn’t effect the Senate seat”, meaning if he didn’t run in 2004 (John Kerry was the Democratic nominee who lost to George Bush) he probably wouldn’t have run in 2008 when his Senate seat would have been up for election again.
And even then, Wellstone says his father would not have likely been at the top of the ticket. “Maybe he would have been somebody’s vice presidential pick as well, just because of what he could have brought.”
Senator Wellstone was already being criticized in 2002 for breaking his promise not to serve more than two terms. At the time he said there was too much work that was not done that he needed to do. David Wellstone offered a similar reason his father would have sought the presidency. “If there was the opportunity and he thought he could go on and do bigger and better things for the country he may have tried.”