February 2, 2005


Grams considers Senate run against Dayton (Dane Smith, February 2, 2005, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Former U.S. Sen. Rod Grams is exploring a rematch in 2006 against U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton, who defeated him in 2000.

Grams said Tuesday that he's had about a dozen conversations with Republicans and former supporters who have asked him to consider a run for the party's nomination, so he intends to begin talking to other activists and party leaders.

"If it looks very promising, and I think it might, then I would toss my hat in the ring," said Grams. "I just want to be a little more sure."

He defeated DFLer Ann Wynia in the 1994 U.S. Senate race before losing his reelection bid to Dayton.

"This shakes up the dynamic of the nomination contest," said Sarah Janecek, a Republican activist and publisher of the newsletter Politics in Minnesota. "Rod is well liked by the Republican rank and file [convention delegates who confer party endorsement]. Unfortunately for him, Republicans not long ago witnessed a comeback attempt [former Sen. Rudy Boschwitz in 1996] and they lost." [...]

While declining to comment on where his encouragement is coming from and what his supporters are saying, Grams contends that the causes he championed as a senator -- tax- and budget-cutting and partial Social Security privatization -- are as prominent now as ever.

A former television anchorman and construction contractor, Grams recently bought three radio stations in Little Falls. He also works for a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, Hecht Spencer & Associates.

It's still early in the two-year election cycle, and no Republican has officially announced a candidacy yet, but two U.S. House members, Mark Kennedy, who represents a north suburban district in the Twin Cities, and Gil Gutknecht, from southeastern Minnesota, are considered the leading candidates.

New campaign finance reports show that as of Dec 31, Gutknecht reported $360,000 in the bank, compared with $190,000 for Dayton and $66,000 for Kennedy.

The Republican grapevine these days also is producing talk about several other possible candidates: Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer, former U.S. Rep. Vin Weber and Brian Sullivan, a businessman and 2002 candidate for the GOP gubernatorial endorsement. Aides to Gov. Tim Pawlenty say he has no interest in the office.

The emergence of strong or at least prominent challengers might be attributed in part to Dayton's endangered status on the charts of Washington political handicappers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 2, 2005 1:12 PM

Hmm... Grams ran a really lousy campaign in 2000. Personally I like him a lot--he convinced me of the worth of Social Security accounts in a town hall-style presentation back before anyone else was talking about them. But he may have a bit too much Bob Dole in him. Even if he won in 2006, he'd be vulnerable again in 2012.

Posted by: Timothy at February 2, 2005 2:08 PM

Agreed. Gramms is a lightweight former TV newscaster. The MN Republican bench is deep this cycle: Mark Kennedy, Gil Gutknecht, and Vin Weber are all better candidates.

To be fair to Gramms, he got railroaded last time by the MN media. This cycle we have Powerline and Captains Quarters to help hold the media accountable.

Posted by: Gideon at February 2, 2005 3:10 PM

The MN media are unhappy that their state is no longer a DFL commune.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at February 2, 2005 3:58 PM

Someone had a "Lileks for Senate 2006" page up as a joke a while back. James Lileks doesn't want to go into politics, but . . . dear heavens, it would be something to see, wouldn't it?

Posted by: Mike Morley at February 2, 2005 5:19 PM

After Grams dreadful 2000 campaign, he should stick to lobbying. When Minnesota was as close as it was in 2000 on the Presidential level, a short Welsh herding dog with the GOP line should have been able to beat a tired leftie like Dayton.

Gutknecht and Kennedy would be interesting candidates but I am still asking how they penetrate the Twin Cities media market where about half the voters reside. The notion of a Vin Weber candidacy is a Red Star wet dream, as they could spend the entire Senate campaign refraining from talking about issues and focusing on the House Bank Scandal.

Posted by: Bart at February 3, 2005 6:32 AM