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Don't worry; there are more where he came from

How well do you think it would go over if a Republican candidate publicly told his supporters that the death of Senator Wellstone opened up new opportunities for the Republican party? I think there'd be a huge uproar, no?

So how come senate candidate Frank Lautenberg can get away with this:

A day after United States Senator Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash, Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey's Democratic candidate, said that the best way for Mr. Wellstone's political admirers to honor his memory was to ensure that the Democrats retain control of the Senate.


But with the Democrats holding a single-seat margin in the Senate, and Mr. Wellstone's seat now in serious jeopardy, Mr. Lautenberg said the tragedy made it even more important for Democrats across the country to support candidates like himself, who share Mr. Wellstone's political beliefs.

"This certainly poses a burden on us," said Mr. Lautenberg, who is leading Douglas R. Forrester, the Republican, in most public opinion polls. "All of the seats under contest have to go Democratic to protect the interests he had. I hope to be part of that group."

I know that political reality has to intrude eventually, but Lautenberg waited all of one day before he decided to exploit the death for his own political ends. This is a man who refuses to debate his opponent, who then has the audacity to claim that Forrester isn't addressing issues. And then he uses as his own "issue" that people should vote for him because a dead guy needs to be replaced so that Democrats can retain control of a house of Congress.

The good news for Lautenberg is that, with Walter Mondale looking like the likely Democratic substitute candidate in Minnesota, Lautenberg will no longer be the most washed-up-hasn't-had-a-good-idea-in-two-decades Senate candidate in the country. (Though Lautenberg, believe it or not, is several years older than Mondale, who last was in office twenty-two years ago.)


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