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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) _ Former Vice President Walter Mondale said Wednesday he will run for Senate in place of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone if Minnesota Democrats nominate him.

Mondale was expected to be ratified as the Democratic candidate in a vote Wednesday evening.

Mondale, 74, made his intent known in a letter Wednesday to state Democratic Party Chairman Mike Erlandson.

``It is with a heavy heart but a great hope for the future that I will pick up the campaign where Paul Wellstone left off,'' Mondale wrote. ``Paul cannot be replaced. No one can. But his passion for Minnesotans and their needs can inspire us to continue the work he began.''

Wellstone was killed in a plane crash Friday in northern Minnesota in the midst of a tough re-election battle with Republican Norm Coleman. The race is one of several that could determine control of the U.S. Senate.