MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesotans approve of two-term Sen. Paul Wellstone, but most want him to honor his pledge not to seek re-election, according to the Star Tribune's latest Minnesota Poll.
Most respondents also don't want him to run for governor in 2002, according to the poll published Tuesday.
The Democratic senator's job approval rating of 58 percent is only 1 percentage point shy of his best mark, which was recorded two years ago. On the other side, 25 percent disapprove of his job performance. It's Wellstone's lowest negative rating since the newspaper began measuring it in 1991.
More than half of the respondents -- 53 percent -- said Wellstone should keep his 1990 pledge to serve no more than two six-year terms. Forty percent said he should run anyway, agreeing with the statement that ''Minnesota needs his seniority and viewpoint in the U.S. Senate.''
The poll surveyed 1,031 randomly selected adults by phone from Jan. 3-9. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Wellstone hasn't said he will run for the Senate again, although some of his statements have led to speculation that he might.
Last spring and again in November, he said he hadn't changed his mind, but that under certain circumstances he might consider running for a third term. He also said that he hadn't ruled out the idea of running for governor in 2002.
On Monday, Wellstone repeated that he intends to stick with his two-term pledge.
''I haven't changed my plan. I think two terms is what I want to do.''
But, he added, if Republicans swept into the White House, while retaining control of both houses of Congress, ''then I would think I was bowing out of a major battle.''
As for running for governor, Wellstone remains noncommittal. ''I don't think I'll sort anything out until after this (2000) election. ... I'm not ruling it in or out,'' he said Monday.
With a 58 percent job approval rating, Wellstone falls in the middle of the state's three highest officeholders -- the governor and the two U.S. senators.
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