Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) is nationally known as an outspoken progressive, and George W. Bush and the ultra-right are chomping at the bit to oust him in November. Their hand-picked candidate, former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, is trying to woo women voters. But Jill Pearson-Wood, board president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) Minnesota chapter, said her group is backing Wellstone, who is seeking a third term.

“Paul is the only national legislator that we’re aware of that has voted right on all of NOW’s positions all the time,” Pearson-Wood said. “He’s not only been a supporter of our issues, he’s also been a leader on making them a reality. Throughout his political career, he’s consistently been out in front as an advocate for women.”

Wellstone is an outspoken advocate of reproductive choice, while Coleman is closely associated with anti-abortion organizations.

“If there were only one reason for a woman to vote this election, it would be the issue of choice,” Ann Lewis, Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Votes Center chair said. “Right now, there is a one-vote margin for Roe [v. Wade] in the Senate. That’s it.”

Amy Bodnar, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) State Council director, said her members appreciate Wellstone’s unflagging support of workers’ rights. “As women in the work force, we believe in a living wage, and Paul has been proactive in making sure that, as much as possible, people in our state get paid a living wage,” she said. “He has also been proactive in protecting workers’ right to organize.”