October 25th is the anniversary of the death of Paul Wellstone. Paul was a tremendous treasure to the state of Minnesota. He captured what was great about Minnesota liberalism and carried it all the way to Washington D.C. He was often energetic and brash, but he did it with a Minnesota charm that always endeared him our state. Although he wasn’t born in Minnesota, he adopted the philosophy of small town Minnesota and made it relevant on a large political stage.
He was also very accessible, and was often seen jogging down Summit Ave. I even came face-to-face with him one time as he was turning to run across the street and I almost started driving into him. I was a bit star struck that I saw him in person, and he was nice enough not to yell at me for almost running him down.
I still remember where I was when I heard he died. I was sitting at my desk at the DNR when one of my co-workers got a phone call and told everyone in the room. The rest of the day we all spent hours reloading the local news pages to find out as much as we could. At the time I was in a phase in my life where I was leaning a bit more conservative, but I knew that his loss was a great blow to Minnesota and to America.
This past year, my wife and I were in Grand Marais and Jeremy Messersmith gave a concert of his ukulele album. One of the songs is a tribute to Wellstone, and so I feel like it’s a great way to finish off this blog.