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Rod Grams
Rod Grams, Official Senate portrait.jpg
United States Senator
from Minnesota
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Preceded byDavid Durenberger
Succeeded byMark Dayton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 6th district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1995
Preceded byGerry Sikorski
Succeeded byBill Luther
Personal details
Rodney Dwight Grams

(1948-02-04)February 4, 1948
Princeton, Minnesota, U.S.
DiedOctober 8, 2013(2013-10-08) (aged 65)
Crown, Minnesota, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Christine Gunhus
Alma materBrown College
Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Carroll University

Rodney Dwight Grams (February 4, 1948 – October 8, 2013) was an American politician from Minnesota. He served as a Republican in both the United States House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

Early life

Grams was born in Princeton, Minnesota and attended Brown Institute (1966–68), Anoka-Ramsey Community College (1970–72), and Carroll College (1974–75).[1]

Grams spent 23 years in the field of television and radio broadcasting before launching a career in politics. From 1982–91 he was the senior news anchor at KMSP-TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Before that, he worked as a news anchor/producer for KFBB-TV in Great Falls, Montana; WSAU-TV in Wausau, Wisconsin; and WIFR-TV in Rockford, Illinois. Prior to his years in broadcasting, Grams worked at an engineering consulting firm for seven years. In 1985, Grams formed Sun Ridge Builders, a Twin Cities construction and residential development company, serving as its president and CEO. He was involved in architectural design and the use of solar energy in residential homes.[citation needed]

Early political career

Grams launched his political career by winning the 1992 Republican nomination in Minnesota's 6th congressional district. He defeated Democratic incumbent Gerry Sikorski in the general election. During the campaign, Grams benefited from high name recognition in the district—from years as news anchor at KMSP-TV—and Sikorski's involvement in the House banking scandal.[citation needed] He served in the 103rd Congress as a member of the House of Representatives, and 104th, 105th, and 106th congresses as a member of the U.S. Senate.

U.S. Senate

After David Durenberger announced he would not seek reelection, Grams surprised many by announcing, just months into beginning his first term in the U.S. House, that he would run for the U.S. Senate. However, Grams faced opposition for the Republican party endorsement from State Senator Gen Olson, Bert McKasy (former chief of staff to David Durenberger), and Doug McFarland. During the party endorsement process, the Grams campaign closely aligned itself with supporters of Allen Quist, who was challenging incumbent Governor Arne Carlson for reelection in the 1994 Gubernatorial race. Weeks before the Republican Party's state convention, McFarland dropped out of the U.S. Senate race after endorsing Allen Quist for Governor and joining his ticket to become Quist's Lieutenant Governor running mate. Later, McFarland threw his support behind McKasy in the U.S. Senate Republican Party endorsement campaign.[citation needed]

After numerous ballots at the convention in St. Paul, Grams won the state Republican party endorsement against State Senator Gen Olson and Bert McKasy. Grams moved on to win the Republican primary against Arne Carlson's Lieutenant Governor Joanell Dyrstad, who had been replaced as his running mate with State Senator Joanne Benson. In the general election against Democratic Farm Labor candidate Ann Wynia and Independence Party candidate future Senator Dean Barkley, Grams won a close election (49% to 44%) to become Minnesota's next U.S. Senator.[2]

Grams ran for re-election in 2000 as the incumbent, losing to Mark Dayton. During the campaign, Grams' wife Christine Gunhus was revealed to have written anonymous disparaging emails about Grams' potential Democratic rival, Mike Ciresi, from her home computer.[3] She received a fine and suspended sentence for violating political advertising regulations.[4] The Grams campaign also ran a commercial during the campaign featuring the mother of Rod Grams. The spot ended with Audrey Grams uttering, "Uffda, vote for Rod."

Post-Senate career

After his 2000 re-election defeat, Grams went back into private business and in 2004 became the owner of three radio stations in Little Falls, Minnesota.[5] Grams attempted a political comeback in the 2006 U.S. Senate campaign. He sought the GOP nomination for his former US Senate seat, facing Mark Kennedy and Gil Gutknecht. However, after a poor showing early in the endorsement process,[6] Grams dropped his candidacy. Grams switched his political plans and ran in the 2006 U.S. House election, challenging the incumbent Jim Oberstar in Minnesota's 8th congressional district. Oberstar defeated Grams handily.

Grams remained active in politics and interested in running for public office. In 2008, Grams considered challenging incumbent Norm Coleman for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination but was too busy in his private life to make a run, stating, "And my wife (Chris) would have killed me if I would have, because of some things that we're doing."[7] However, it became unclear whether Grams would run as a Republican. In an interview, he expressed disappointment over the perceived failings of the Republican Party, going as far as to ponder whether he can call himself a Republican or vote for party candidates anymore.[7]

Grams considered a 2010 run for Governor of Minnesota stating, "I'm so damn unhappy with the Republicans right now ... I'm so unhappy with the candidates that we have I could puke. I wanted to get out there and mix it up."[8] However, Grams endorsed Republican Tom Emmer in the 2010 campaign for governor.[9][10] Emmer, like Grams a decade before, lost to Mark Dayton.

Illness and death

On September 4, 2013, it was announced that Grams had been battling colon cancer since 2012 and was receiving hospice care at his home.[11] He died on October 8, 2013, at his home in Crown, Minnesota, aged 65.[12]

Electoral history

Minnesota 8th Congressional District Election 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Jim Oberstar (incumbent) 180,670 63.61
Republican Rod Grams 97,683 34.39
Minnesota U.S. Senate Election 2000
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Mark Dayton 1,180,335 48.78
Republican Rod Grams (incumbent) 1,048,244 43.32
Independence Jim Gibson 141,146 5.83
Minnesota U.S. Senate Election 1994
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Rod Grams 869,653 49.05
Democratic Ann Wynia 781,860 44.10
Independence Dean Barkley 95,400 5.38
Minnesota U.S. Senate Election 1994 - Republican Primary
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Rod Grams 269,931 58.17
Republican Joanell Dyrstad 163,205 35.17
Republican Harold Stassen 22,430 4.83
Minnesota 6th Congressional District Election 1992
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Rod Grams 133,564 44.37
Democratic Gerry Sikorski (incumbent) 100,016 33.23
Reform Dean Barkley 48,329 16.06
Minnesota 6th Congressional District Election 1992 - Republican Primary
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Rod Grams 11,818 68.62
Republican Jim Hillegass 5,404 31.38


  1. ^ "Rod Grams profile at". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  2. ^ "U.S. SENATE ELECTION 1994". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  3. ^ Declan McCullagh. "The Wrong Way to Do Dirty Tricks". Retrieved 2013-10-09.
  4. ^ "Poli Sigh. (Christine Gunhus gets fine and suspended sentence)". 2001-08-01. Archived from the original on 2013-12-25. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
  5. ^ Changing Hands - 5/17/2004 - Broadcasting & Cable Archived 2006-11-26 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "MPR: Campaign 2006: U.S. Congress: 8th District: Rod Grams". Retrieved 2013-10-09.
  7. ^ a b "from ECM Publishers, Inc". Hometown Source. Archived from the original on 2008-10-19. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
  8. ^ Rod Grams Thinking About Running for Governor|
  9. ^ "Grams backs Emmer". 2010-02-01. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
  10. ^ "News | FOX 21 News, KQDS-DT". Archived from the original on 2013-12-27. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
  11. ^ "Former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams, battling cancer, is in hospice care". Star Tribune. 2013-09-04. Retrieved 2013-10-09.
  12. ^ Joey Mcleister, Star Tribune. "Former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams dies of cancer". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2013-10-09.

Further reading

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Minnesota
(Class 1)

1994, 2000
Succeeded by
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by  U.S. senator (Class 1) from Minnesota
Served alongside: Paul Wellstone
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 2 May 2022, at 21:27
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