AFTERWORD Remembering Wellstone BY LOUIS DUBOSE Below: Wellstone in front of the White House with members of the Military Families Support Network in 1991. Facing page: Wellstone at an Observer benefit held at Scholz Garden in 1997. Photographs by Alan Pogue n 1990, Bernard Rapoport got a call from Tony Mazzocchithe Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers union official who was so disillusioned with the Democratic Party that he founded a labor party. Mazzocchi told Rapoport there was not an American politician he cared about. Yet he was asking Rapoportthe insurance company executive and former U.T. Board of Regents chair \(and financial ate race. “Tony told me Paul Wellstone believes in everything we believe in,” said to suspend his boycott of Democratic political candidates was a political science professor who had joined Hormel workers on a picket line and gone to jail for protesting unfair lending practices. Rapoport promised to “open up the bank” for. Wellstone. Mazzocchi promised he wouldn’t be disappointed. Paul Wellstone, Mazzocchi predicted, would not waver from his principles. He didn’t. Months later, the freshman senator from Minnesota began his first speech on the floor of the Senate: I rise to speak in this chamber for the first time with a very heavy heart. I wanted my first speech to be about children and education, and health care and a credible energy policy and the environment. I never thought that the first time I would have an opportunity to speak in this chamber the topic would be such a grave topic: life and death. Wellstone followed his speech by casting a vote against authorizing President George Herbert Walker Bush to take the nation into war in the Persian Gulf. Over the course of two terms in the Senate, Wellstone would cast other votes based. on principle. Perhaps the greatest political risk he took was his vote against President Bill Clinton’s welfare reform proposalat a moment when Wellstone knew that the Republican incumbent he narrowly defeated in 1990 would be his well-financed challenger in 1996.
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