Senator Paul Wellstone Is Dead

Senator Paul Wellstone is dead, along with his wife and daughter.
Their plane crashed early this morning in Minnesota, apparently. Reports are extremely light on information as yet; I have not seen anything to indicate the cause of the accident.
First and for the record, my condolences to the families of those on board, both of the Wellstones, their travelling party, and the pilot and crew.
At a more base level, however, there is obviously the question of who will succeed Wellstone. My understanding of Minnesota law says that the governor has the power to appoint a successor to Wellstone’s seat.
But the question is, for how long? I’ve been unable to determine the rules by a quick read of the Minnesota State Constitution (oddly, it seems only to refer to state legislators, not to the state’s federal representatives at all. But perhaps I am reading it wrong). This biography of a former governor, however, contains with in it a statement that the governor may appoint anyone to a vacant Senate seat but himself.
If a new election must be called in the immediate future, this changes little.
But if the appointed senator is permitted to serve out even a two-year term (until the next election; barring the one that is presumably too-near in the future to count).
Well then, Jesse Ventura, irony of ironies, has just become a rather powerful man. Is it possible that this has-been wrestler turned has-been ‘independent’ governor now gets to decide all by himself which party will fill a hotly contested Senate seat for the next few years?
Update: Did a bit more research. It appears that the Democrats will be able to nominate a candidate to continue in Wellstone’s place in the election; I’m reading this part of Minnesota election law right now, which says:
“A major political party may provide in its governing rules a procedure, including designation of an appropriate committee, to fill vacancies in nomination for all offices elected statewide… If the vacancy in nomination occurs through the candidate’s death or catastrophic illness, the nomination certificate must be filed within seven days after the vacancy in nomination occurs but no later than four days before the general election.”
It would appear that Wellstone’s death fits into this definition, which means the Democrats still have time to run a candidate in his place.
My assumption now is that Ventura will have to nominate someone to fill Wellstone’s seat; the Democrats will put up a new candidate, but then whoever wins the general election will take the seat from the Ventura’s appointee early next year.
Update 2: A Blogger-crippled blogger sent InstaPundit a link to this statute, which provides additional detail on the process to be followed to replace Wellstone on the ballot.
Update 3: Scott Koenig is also following the story, and has additional information, including a biography of Wellstone.
Update 4: Martin points us to James Lileks’ thoughts on Senator Wellstone. And while I cannot in truth say I knew Wellstone’s record or person well even through the media, I suspect that if I did, Lileks’ summary of his view of Wellstone would serve for my own as well. As it likely would for many in this corner of the Blogosphere. Political opponents who possess honesty and integrity are to be cherished, and this one will be missed.
Update 5: I would like to provide a link to any site or organization where condolences can be sent to the families of the crash victims, but have not yet found any (obviously a little early). If anyone sees such a link (or address, or phone #) please pass it on and I’ll post it here. Until then, I would assume that messages of condolence sent via his official web page would be routed appropriately by his staff; his main page is here and his contact form is here.