Rod Grams, former U.S. senator and broadcaster, dies at 65Published by on
Former U.S. Sen Rod Grams died late Tuesday night after a battle with cancer. He was 65.
His death was confirmed Wednesday morning by Kent Kaiser, a spokesman for the family.
Grams, who served a term in the U.S. House and a term in the Senate in the 1990s, is being remembered as a principled, humble conservative who helped usher in a new era of politics in Minnesota and Washington.
Born in 1948 in the central Minnesota town of Princeton, Grams grew up on a dairy farm. He went to Carroll College in Helena, Mont.
Many Minnesotans first came to know him through his job as news anchorman at KMSP-TV in the Twin Cities.
In the early '90s, he traded TV for politics.
"Now Rod Grams is running for Congress with real ideas on deficit reduction, welfare reform and a commitment to restore ethical conduct in Congress," said an announcer on one of his television campaign ads.
In his first bid for elective office, Grams challenged Democratic U.S. Rep. Jerry Sikorski in the 6th District, who was caught up in a congressional bank scandal that cost many members their jobs.
Grams served just one term in the House before turning his attention to the Senate, where U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger, a fellow Republican, chose not to run for re-election. Grams used the skills he learned as a broadcaster to promote a message of smaller government and lower taxes.
"I think the greatest thing that I can do for people in Minnesota or across the country, is to continue to give them the opportunity to fulfill the dreams that they have for themselves and for their families," Grams said.
Grams won the Senate seat in 1994 defeating Democrat Ann Wynia. He served a single term in the Senate before he was defeated by Democrat Mark Dayton in 2000.
In Washington, Grams was best known for what his "families-first" agenda, which included a popular per-child tax credit. For most families, it started at $500 and grew to its current $1,000.
Like many Republicans, Grams also wanted to shrink the size of the federal government.
"We need a smaller, more effective government," he said of his political philosophy in 1996. "We need less regulations and mandates and still being able to maintain a good safe, sound environment and other issues the workplace safety and everything else and we also need tax relief. I believe we're way over-taxed in this country for the services we're getting."