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Former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams, who moved from broadcasting to politics in the 1990s, is in hospice care following a recurrence of cancer, a family spokesman said Wednesday.
Grams, 65, has battled cancer for some time and had gone through several courses of chemotherapy treatments, said Kent Kaiser, a longtime friend and supporter. Grams stopped the treatments when they appeared unable to stop the spread of the disease, Kaiser said.
He is receiving hospice services at his home in Crown. “He’ll say his destiny is in God’s hands — that’s how he puts it,” Kaiser said Wednesday.
Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, a gubernatorial candidate and former House speaker who got his start in politics working for Grams, said he hopes Grams has enough time to visit with the many friends he worked with and “to hear how great people believed he was.”
Grams was a longtime anchorman for KMSP-TV in the Twin Cities and a homebuilder when he entered politics as a Republican candidate in the 1992 campaign.
It was Grams’ work as a homebuilder and his conflicts with government agencies that convinced him that he should run, Kaiser recalled. “He ran into these regulatory barriers,” Kaiser said. “At some point, he decided he had enough. He called up the Republican Party and asked, ‘What can I do?”
He defeated Democratic Rep. Gerry Sikorski in 1992 in Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District. Two years later, he ran for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Republican Dave Durenberger. Grams bested Democrat Ann Wynia and Independence Party candidate Dean Barkley in the Senate race. He served one six-year term before being defeated by Democrat Mark Dayton, the current Minnesota governor.
Grams attempted a comeback in 2006 but was defeated by U.S. Rep. James Oberstar in the Eighth Congressional District. When Republican Chip Cravaack won the seat in 2010, Cravaack tapped Grams to help him set up his office in Washington.
Kaiser and Zellers, who worked with Grams throughout his Senate career, said he was proud of his work on a per-child tax credit that became law and his campaign for a partial privatization of Social Security that did not win approval.
Grams’ radio station in Little Falls, which Grams and his wife purchased in 2004, posted a statement saying Grams “wishes to thank everyone for their continued support and prayers, especially his employees at Little Falls radio.” He thanked his co-host on a show called “Up Front,” Steve Van Slooten, saying that working on that program “was one of Rod’s many joys over the better part of the last decade at Little Falls Radio.”