The apparent death of former Alaska senator Ted Stevens in a plane crash brings to mind the death of Minnesota senator Paul Wellstone in a plane crash eight years ago. I covered Wellstone, a Democrat, during his final days–he was campaigning for re-election in 2002, against Republican Norm Coleman. I traveled around Minnesota, attending events with the senator. Upon my return home, I filed my story with National Review and the magazine went to press. The issue came out on the very day that Wellstone’s plane went down.
Politicians fly around a lot, obviously. When they have their own planes–they often charter them during campaigns–they sometimes offer rides to journalists. I’ve received a number of these. The most recent, in fact, came a couple of weeks ago and it’s an open invitation to fly with a candidate who plans to visit a few rural parts of his state. I’m not afraid of flying, but these invitations always give me pause. My first thought always is of Wellstone.