ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Sen. Paul Wellstone’s oldest son has urged former Vice President Walter Mondale to step in as his late father’s replacement on the Nov. 5 ballot, Democratic leaders said yesterday.

The state party’s top official said the family’s wishes will be a major factor in Mondale’s decision.

Mike Erlandson, chairman of the state’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, said David Wellstone asked Mondale to run in his father’s place. He and other surviving family members weren’t immediately available to comment, the late senator’s campaign staff said.

A group of up to 875 Minnesota Democrats will meet Wednesday to officially choose the substitute candidate for Wellstone, who died Friday in a plane crash. Erlandson refused to say whether Mondale would be the nominee, although he has said the family’s choice would weigh heavily in the decision. He said he believes Mondale will run if nominated.

If Democrats succeed in drafting Mondale, it will give them a powerhouse candidate for a six-day campaign against Republican Norm Coleman, the former St. Paul mayor who entered the race at the urging of President Bush. The race had been tight between Coleman and Wellstone and was a top target of Republicans trying to regain control of the Senate.

State Republican officials have said they would attempt to cast a Mondale-Coleman race as a choice between a reluctant placeholder and someone who is eager to do the work.

“Walter Mondale is a good man,” Coleman said yesterday, declining to comment further on his potential opponent. “There will be a campaign, but now is not the time.”

Mondale, 74, hasn’t returned calls to reporters or answered the door at his Minneapolis home.

Those close to Mondale said he isn’t expected to comment publicly on a potential candidacy until after tomorrow’s memorial service for Wellstone, his wife, daughter and three campaign workers who died in the plane crash. Relatives of the six passengers and two pilots visited the northern Minnesota crash site yesterday. The cause of the crash, which happened in freezing rain, remained under investigation.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.