Rod Grams has passed away after a long battle with cancer.
Son of a dairy farmer from Princeton, MN, Grams came up through broadcasting, working his way from small radio stations into the anchorman’s seat at Channel 9 by the mid-eighties.
From there, he went into politics – defeating Gerry Sikorski, who was hobbled by a capitol banking scandal that showed the door to not a few Congresspeople that year.
And in 1994, at the crest of the “Contract with America”, he took over Dave Durenberger’s Senate seat, after beating Ann Wynia by squeaker in a race that showed both the nascent power of conservatives in the exceedingly moderate Minnesota Independent Republican party, and the rising power of the state’s Second Amendment lobby.
His term in the Senate also was a barometer for the slide of the Twin Cities media into outright partisanship; the Twin Cities media lavished coverage on the twists and turns in Grams’ personal life, and breathless wall to wall scrutiny on the travails of Grams’ son Morgan – of whom Grams’ ex-wife had had full custody – in a way that they never quite managed to for DFLers.
But it is an objective fact that Grams accomplished more in his six years in DC than the celebrated Paul Wellstone did in 12, or than Amy Klobuchar likely will in her entire career.
After being defeated for re-election by future “Worst Senator in America” Mark Dayton in 2000, Grams went back to his first love, broadcasting; he owned a cluster of radio stations in Central Minnesota.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Senator Grams two or three times on the NARN. He had a broadcaster’s knack for being a great interview subject.
I urge you to direct your prayers – or whatever your worldview calls for – to his family.