His brand of Republicanism wouldn’t be acceptable to his party today.
Former U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad, who served western Hennepin County for nine terms in Congress and earned bipartisan respect for work on mental health and other issues, died on Thursday. Ramstad was 74. He had been suffering from a degenerative disease, according to former Rep. Erik Paulsen, who succeeded Ramstad in Minnesota’s Third Congressional District.
“A lot of folks who run for office today get involved in politics because they’re more about an ideology rather than offering solutions to problems facing their community, the state and the country,” Paulsen said Friday morning. “Jim was about identifying a problem and fixing it.
Paulsen, who got his start in politics with a staff job in Ramstad’s DC office, said he last spoke to Ramstad two weeks ago. He was still living in Wayzata as he did for many years, Paulsen said, and was being cared for by wife, Kathryn Ramstad.
“We didn’t know it would happen this fast,” Paulsen said of the man he called his friend and political mentor. “His nickname was the Rammer. He was always very full of life, vibrant.”
Elected in 1991, Ramstad was reelected eight times before deciding not to run again in 2008. In Congress, he was most known for work on expanding access to treatment for mental health, and was chief sponsor of legislation that opened the door to treatment for millions of Americans suffering from mental illness or chemical addiction.