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Mondale Likely To Yield To Pleas To Run For Senate

Former vice president Walter F. Mondale is likely to yield to pleas from Democratic leaders and step in for the late Sen. Paul D. Wellstone in Minnesota's critical Senate race, several party officials said today.

Gov. Jesse Ventura, an independent, threw a possible monkey wrench into that prospect by suggesting that whoever he appoints to fill Wellstone's seat in the current Congress could serve until a special election in November 2003.

Ventura said he had been told his appointee might serve for a full year, until a special election in 2003 that he said would offer "a fairer test" to both parties.

I don't really know anything about Minnesota election law, but I suspect the Democrats' plan -- switch the ticket to Mondale and hold the election as scheduled -- is the correct legal procedure. It seems logical that Ventura's appointee would only be able to serve until the end of Wellstone's current term. But at the same time, I can see the merit in appointing someone who would serve a full year before a special election. The election results are likely to be skewed by a sympathy vote in the Democrats' favor, especially considering that the press is eulogizing Wellstone in glowing terms. Mondale will be able to run on his mythic stature (Minnesota was the only state to vote for him when he challenged Reagan in 1984) and his apolitical image, without being subjected to the political trials of months of campaigning. And Norm Coleman, the Republican candidate, is in an unenviable spot. He needs to fight hard to come out on top. But the harder he fights, the worse he will look, as voters will see him playing politics so soon after Wellstone's death and insulting the memory of the deceased.


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