Remembering Senator Rod Grams
by John Hendrickson
In October former Minnesota Senator Rod Grams lost his battle with cancer. Senator Grams served as a journalist and a small business owner before being elected to the United States House of Representatives. Grams won election to the Senate in the historic midterm elections of 1994 — famous for Newt Gingrich’s Contract With America — which resulted in the Republican Party capturing control of Congress and bringing a more conservative direction to public policy.
Rod Grams was unique because he ran as a conservative and won in Minnesota, which is a progressive/liberal state. Grams believed in limited government and free enterprise. He was pro-life and defended traditional values. Grams correctly saw the dangers of too much government regulation on businesses and the problem of high taxation. He stood for constitutional limited government. One of his major legislative achievements was the $500 per-child tax credit.
Senator Grams understood that if the federal government followed a fiscal policy of low taxation and limited regulation it would lead to economic growth. He also was a champion for limited government by supporting reductions in government spending. Senator Grams understood the need to preserve entitlement programs such as Social Security, but also the reality that these programs needed to be reformed for younger generations. Therefore, he proposed “individual investment accounts as a part of Social Security.” In regard to national defense he stood for a strong American defense, while protecting national interests. Grams also served as a Congressional delegate to the United Nations.
During his term Grams established “one of the most conservative voting records,” which is interesting in comparison to Minnesota’s other Senator, Paul Wellstone, who was the leading champion of progressivism in the Senate. During the 2000 election Senator Grams stood for reelection, but was defeated by Mark Dayton, who currently serves as Minnesota’s Governor.
Grams continued his public service after his time in the Senate by continuing to fight for conservative principles and candidates. In 2006 he ran against Representative James Oberstar in the 8th Congressional District, and although he lost that election he was part of the historic Republican victory of Chip Cravaack, who defeated Oberstar in the 2010 election. Grams served as Representative Cravaack’s Chief of Staff to help him with the transition.
Senator Rod Grams will be remembered for his record of service, kindness, and for being a champion of conservative policies and values. As for myself, in 1994 Senator Grams’ campaign introduced me to politics and to the virtue of conservative principles. I will never forget Rod Grams and I wish we could have his leadership in the Senate today to help solve the great fiscal crisis that will determine the future of our republic.
 Michael Barone and Grant Ujifus, The Almanac of American Politics: 2000, National Journal, Washington, D.C., 1999, p. 870.
 Ibid., p. 869
John Hendrickson is a Research
Analyst with Public Interest Institute.
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