U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) was killed today along with seven others in a plane crash in northern Minnesota. Wellstone, 58, was one of the most outspoken liberals in Congress; he opposed the use of force in Iraq and was a longtime ally to environmentalists, earning a near-perfect 96 percent lifetime score from the Washington, D.C.-based League of Conservation Voters. Wellstone’s wife and daughter were also killed in the crash, along with several of his aides. At the time of his death, the senator was facing a tough reelection battle against Republican challenger Norm Coleman, who was handpicked to run by the Bush White House. The race could have determined control of the Senate; now, with election day less than two weeks away, it is unclear who will replace Wellstone on the Democratic ticket. The staff of Grist is saddened by the deaths and extends its deepest sympathy to the Wellstones’ loved ones.