Friends seek to rally Hill support for ailing former Sen. Rod Grams

Former staffers of Sen. Rod Grams (R-Minn.) are asking friends and colleagues in Washington to reach out to the former senator, who has entered hospice care for terminal cancer.

Grams, 65, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2012, and it has since metastasized into an aggressive form of liver cancer.

Kent Kaiser, a GOP activist acting as spokesman for the family, said the senator has stopped chemotherapy treatment and is resting comfortably at home.

“He’s feeling good right now, but he’s very tired of course,” he said.

Kaiser said people can email Grams at

“He’s been getting a lot of messages, and he appreciates the support,” he said.

Grams spent eight years in Washington, occupying both chambers of Congress. He was elected to the House in 1992 and to the Senate in 1994. He lost his 2000 reelection bid to Democrat Mark Dayton.

He left behind a network of friends and colleagues in Washington who are working to keep up the senator’s spirits.

Joe Trauger and Erik Rosedahl, two former Grams staffers who now work at the National Association of Manufacturers, are encouraging people to reach out to Grams and his wife, Chris.

“Rod was in Washington for a long time. He has a lot of friends who probably didn’t even know he had cancer,” Rosedahl said.

Both men, who worked for Grams for five years, have warm memories of working for the senator.

Trauger said Grams is a down-to-earth, quick-witted person who was fun to be around. 

“He wasn’t a prima donna or anybody who has an ego that was outsized,” he said. “He treated people with respect.”

Grams attempted to re-enter politics in 2006 when he challenged Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar in the House. But he lost that race and ultimately got involved in radio, hosting a program in Little Falls, Minn. He worked in television and radio before he entered politics.

The former senator has found comfort in his faith. 

Last week he told KMSP, a Fox affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul, of his decision to enter hospice: “The decision became evident, as far as my faith and where I’m going from here. I always feel my last breath here is my first breath in heaven, and I’m very comfortable with that.”