Former Minnesota Congressman Jim Ramstad has died. He was 74.
Ramstad, who served Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District from 1991 to 2009, was in failing health prior to his death, according to multiple reports. MPR News says he had been battling Parkinson's disease.
He was a well-respected Republican who worked across the aisle. Ramstad is most well-known for his work on addiction recovery and mental health issues, being open about his own alcoholism and recovery. He was the chief sponsor of a bill – named in honor of late Sen. Paul Wellstone, a Democrat – that made it easier for more people to get treatment for mental illness and/or chemical addiction.
In a tweet Friday, the advocacy arm of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation called Ramstad "a great leader" and "one of the most impactful recovery advocates in modern history."
“Jim’s political philosophy was guided by a fundamental belief in the importance of working in a bipartisan, pragmatic, common-sense way to solve problems,” former chief of staff Dean Peterson said of Ramstad, according to MPR News.
In the Star Tribune's obituary, the paper says Ramstad's politics would have left him "out of step" with today's Republican party, noting he supported legal abortion, sponsored climate change legislation, backed measures to increase fuel efficiency standards in cars, and was even considered for a post in President Barack Obama's administration.
Before he represented western Hennepin County and a portion of Carver County in Congress, where he routinely garnered two-thirds or more of the vote, Ramstad served in the Minnesota Senate from 1981-1991. Prior to that, he was an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, according to the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.
News of Ramstad's death spread on social media late Thursday and Friday morning, with tributes to the late representative pouring in. Here's a sampling of how those who knew him remember him: