Wellstone focused on primary

By Angela Greiling Keane

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Paul Wellstone is focusing on the Sept. 10 primary, his campaign manager said. But he's focusing more on ginning up voter turnout on behalf of the Democratic Party's endorsed candidate for state auditor than for his own race.

"Both campaigns are very focused on the general election," Wellstone campaign manager Jeff Blodgett said of Wellstone's and Republican challenger Norm Coleman's campaigns. "It's simply a way stop along the way."

But Blodgett said the campaign is still aware that Wellstone does face two challengers in the primary, even if one challenger is little known and the other is a perennial candidate.


"We never take any election for granted," Blodgett said.

For his part, challenger Alve Erickson, a Chisholm mechanical engineer, knows his chances of knocking off a two-term incumbent U.S. senator are slim. But, he's still having a fun ride.

"It's really great to talk to people and get slightly varied opinions on subjects," he said. "This would just be the beginning if things worked out favorably. There would be another battle in a couple months."

Dick Franson, who has filed for office 19 times, including five times for U.S. Senate, said he gives voters the choice of electing a veteran to the Senate.

"I want to be the first Vietnam veteran elected to the Senate from Minnesota," Franson said. Franson was a Minneapolis alderman in the 1960s.

"One reason why I'm a candidate is when candidates of political parties don't talk about issues of the day, I become a candidate," Franson said. "That's the best way to get my issues across is to be a candidate."

In his first race in 1990, the underdog Wellstone pledged to serve no more than two six-year terms. But he decided to seek a third term, a decision that Erickson and Franson criticize.

"In Minnesota, here up in the northern part of the state at least, people are a little bit concerned about a senator who says he only wants to serve two terms and then goes back on that," Erickson said.


Erickson said Wellstone's turning back on his self-imposed term limit, as well as the fact that he is retired and single, propelled him to enter the race.

"Once one is a little more flexible and so on, you finally decide it's fine to do it," Erickson said of running for Senate. "Not that there aren't thousands of others in the state who could do just as good of a job as I could."

BOX; Paul Wellsone

Age: 58

Address: St. Paul

Family: Wife, Sheila; three adult children: David, Marcia and Mark; six grandchildren

Work and education: U.S. senator, elected 1990; political science professor at Carleton College; University of North Carolina, B.A. 1965, Ph.D. 1969

Community and volunteer activities: Supporter of high school wrestling and other amateur sports, active with Sheila in domestic violence prevention


Previous government positions: None

Top three issues: Increasing federal spending for K-12 education, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and protecting retirement security through Social Security and pension safeguards

BOX; Dick Franson

Age: 73

Address: Minneapolis

Family: Divorced, three adult children: Terri, Todd and Tim

Work and education: Retired Army; retired federal appraiser; Metropolitan State University, B.A., 1976

Community and volunteer activities: President of the Minneapolis Umpires Association in 1962; commander of a Minneapolis VFW post in 1998, lifetime member of various veterans groups including the VFW and Disabled American Veterans


Previous government positions: Minneapolis alderman 1963-65

Top three issues: Enacting a constitutional amendment to protect the American flag, creating a national health insurance system and protecting Social Security and Medicare benefits

BOX; Alve Erickson

Age: 72

Address: Chisholm

Family: Single

Work and education: Mechanical engineer, consultant; Hibbing Community College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D.

Community and volunteer activities: Math tutoring, volunteer in India


Previous government positions: None

Top three issues: Redesigning the Internet to separate pornographic content from other content, add prescription drug benefit for senior citizens, increase congressional ethics

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