Grams tells GOP group he's out of Senate race
Chris Serres, Star Tribune
April 24, 2005
Rod Grams gave up his bid for a U.S. Senate seat on Saturday, according to an official in the state party, a move that would virtually ensure that U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy will walk away with the Republican nomination in 2006.
Grams did not return phone calls to his home Saturday for comment, but a party official said the former senator announced plans to drop out of the race during a speech at the Minnesota Republican Party's Eighth District Convention in Isanti, Minn.
"He basically said, 'I want my friends here of the Eighth District to be the first to know I will not be running for the U.S. Senate,'" said George Cable, the chairman of the convention and a former deputy chairman of the state Republican Party. "He went on to say that he would strongly support whoever won the nomination."
Grams offered very little explanation for the decision, but last month he lashed out against state Republican Party leaders for endorsing Kennedy.
Grams accused the party hierarchy of "third-world politics" and called for state Republican Party Chairman Ron Eibensteiner to be thrown out of his office for breaking the tradition of pre-endorsement neutrality by party chairs.
Reached at home Saturday, Eibensteiner said he heard talk of Grams' dropping out but he declined to say more.
Grams was considering challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton in a rematch of their race in 2000 before Dayton announced in February that he would not seek a second term.
Retired minister Harold Shudlick is running as a Republican but is a vast underdog to Kennedy. The Sixth District congressman has raised $550,000 in the first three months of the year and has the endorsement of Gov. Tim Pawlenty, U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman and about two dozen state senators.
Though Grams' decision will remove suspense from the process, it should benefit the party as it seeks to raise money for the 2006 election, said Steve Schier, a political science professor at Carleton College in Northfield. Early unity is important in a race where $30 million or more may be spent or raised.
So far, Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar is the only DFLer to formally announce a candidacy. Jack Uldrich, former chairman of the Independence Party, is running for that party.
"The sooner [the Republicans] can marshal all their resources around one candidate, instead of deploying those resources against each other, the better," Schier said.