Iron Range DFL Rep. Tom Rukavina says its time for the state to honor the memory of the late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone at a fitting place in the Capitol. He says he’s introducing legislation to commission a bust of the populist DFLer, who died in a 2002 plane crash, to be placed in Minnesota’s seat of government.
Wellstone was actually en route to the funeral of Rukavina’s father when the plane went down, killing Wellstone, his wife Sheila, daughter Marcia, three campaign staffers and the plane’s two pilots.
He says the family tie makes it appropriate for him to author the bill. He said this fall will mark a decade since the crash. Rukavina said the state historical society says that’s the appropriate time to wait.
It may be longer, of course. Wellstone is a rallying point for the DFL, and the Republican majority in the Legislature may not be eager to honor him.
Rukavina says he’s not concerned about that.
“You know, I’m not going to get into politics. I know some very, very conservative Republican people in my district who liked Paul Wellstone, beacuse he could just connect with them, whether they agreed with him or not. That’s what I’m hoping happens around here. Paul Wellstone had friends on both sides of the aisle. I mean he wound up being good friends with Orrin Hatch. I know at least in my area of the Iron Range, whether my constituents were Republicans, Democrats, conservatives or liberals, they always felt Paul Wellstone listened to them, connected with them. And that’s what I’m hoping happens here with the Republicans in charge of both the House and Senate.”
Photo courtesy of Terry Gydesen