MINNEAPOLIS - From the moment his green bus drove from the campaign trail to Washington, Paul Wellstone's grassroots, progressive style of politics changed Minnesota.
However, Minnesota politics would change forever again on October 25th, 2002, when Wellstone died suddenly in a plane crash near Eveleth, along with wife Sheila, daughter Marcia, three campaign workers, and two pilots.
"I can't believe it's been 15 years," said Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who was friends with Wellstone, and now occupies Wellstone's former seat in the Senate.
"Just before he died he said I don't represent the oil companies, the big pharmaceutical companies, they already have great representation in Washington. It's the rest of the people that need it. I represent the people of Minnesota," Franken said.
15 years later, in that vein, Wellstone Action now works to train and elect future progressive leaders. Franken believes Wellstone's style would still reverberate today, as both parties look to appeal to the little guy.
"You saw in the last election that President Trump appealed to people who felt they had been left out and that the special interests were too powerful. I think Bernie Sanders did as well," Franken said.
"Paul had that heart, Paul had that courage, and that's why I'm not the only Senator who considers him not just a hero but a role model," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who spoke about Wellstone's legacy during a speech at the University of Minnesota last weekend.
While a stone now stands at the crash site as a memorial, it's those who've followed in politics who want to make certain the Wellstone legacy lives on.
"He really was an authentic person who had a real passion for people," Franken said.
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