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Rod Grams

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Title: Rod Grams  
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Subject: United States Senate election in Minnesota, 1994, United States Senate election in Minnesota, 2000, Mark Dayton, United States Senate elections, 2000, Doug McFarland
Collection: 1948 Births, 2013 Deaths, American Businesspeople, American Lutherans, American Television News Anchors, Businesspeople from Minnesota, Cancer Deaths in Minnesota, Carroll College (Montana) Alumni, Deaths from Colorectal Cancer, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Minnesota, Minnesota Republicans, People from Princeton, Minnesota, Republican Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Republican Party United States Senators, United States Senators from Minnesota
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Rod Grams

Rodney Dwight "Rod" Grams
United States Senator
from Minnesota
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by David Durenberger
Succeeded by Mark Dayton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 6th district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Gerry Sikorski
Succeeded by Bill Luther
Personal details
Born Rodney Dwight Grams
(1948-02-04)February 4, 1948
Princeton, Minnesota
Died October 8, 2013(2013-10-08) (aged 65)
Crown, Minnesota
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Christine Gunhus
Alma mater Brown College
Anoka-Ramsey Community College
Carroll University
Religion Lutheran

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


  • Early life 1
  • Early political career 2
  • U.S. Senate 3
  • Post-Senate career 4
  • Illness and death 5
  • Electoral history 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

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.

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. He served in the 103rd 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 US House, that he would run for the US 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 US 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 US Senate Republican Party endorsement campaign.

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 Dean Barkley, Grams won a close election to become Minnesota's next US Senator.

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.[2] She received a fine and suspended sentence for violating political advertising regulations.[3] The Grams campaign also ran a commercial during the campaign featuring the mother of Rod Grams. The spot ended with Audrey Grans 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.[4] 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,[5] 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 shared he 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."[6] 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.[6]

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."[7] However, Grams endorsed Republican Tom Emmer in the 2010 campaign for governor.[8][9]

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.[10] He died on October 8, 2013 at his home in Crown, Minnesota, aged 65.[11]

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. ^ Declan McCullagh. "The Wrong Way to Do Dirty Tricks". Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  3. ^ "Poli Sigh. (Christine Gunhus gets fine and suspended sentence)". 2001-08-01. Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  4. ^ Changing Hands - 5/17/2004 - Broadcasting & Cable
  5. ^ "MPR: Campaign 2006: U.S. Congress: 8th District: Rod Grams". Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  6. ^ a b "from ECM Publishers, Inc.". Hometown Source. Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  7. ^ Rod Grams Thinking About Running for Governor|
  8. ^ "Grams backs Emmer". 2010-02-01. Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  9. ^ "News | FOX 21 News, KQDS-DT". Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  10. ^ "Former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams, battling cancer, is in hospice care". Star Tribune. 2013-09-04. Retrieved 2013-10-09. 
  11. ^ Joey Mcleister, Star Tribune. "Former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams dies of cancer". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2013-10-09. 

Further reading

  • The Senatorial records of Rod Grams are available for research use at the Minnesota Historical Society.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Gerry Sikorski
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 6th congressional district

Succeeded by
Bill Luther
United States Senate
Preceded by
David Durenberger
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Minnesota
Served alongside: Paul Wellstone
Succeeded by
Mark Dayton
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