February 2, 2005
St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) - Republican Rod Grams is pondering a political comeback with a possible challenge to Democratic Sen. Mark Dayton, who knocked him out of office in 2000.
Grams, 56, said he's going to take the next six weeks to two months to decide whether to enter the 2006 U.S. Senate race. He said he's already had a couple dozen people encourage him to take that step.
"I want to see if this pool of support is wide and if it's deep," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Tuesday evening.
Grams, who owns three radio stations in central Minnesota and has been working for a Washington consulting firm, said he wants to add a voice to several issues in Congress. Among them, he supports an overhaul of the Social Security program, along the lines of one President Bush has proposed.
Dayton used the Social Security issue against Grams in the 2000 campaign, saying Grams' plan to partially privatize Social Security would threaten the retirement system.
"I was probably a little ahead of my time," Grams said Tuesday.
Grams also mentioned balancing the budget and Medicare reform as top issues he would like to address.
Grams, a former television news anchor in the Twin Cities, was elected to the U.S. House in 1992. He was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994 and served as a steadfast conservative voice until he lost to Dayton in 2000.
Dayton, a department store heir, spent $12 million of his own money on the 2000 race, but has said he can't afford to self-fund in 2006.
Other possible challengers to Dayton include Republican Rep. Gil Gutknecht and Republican Rep. Mark Kennedy. Neither have officially declared their candidacy.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)