Sad News from St. Paul
Former state Sen. Dallas Sams dies at 54
By Conrad Defiebre, Star Tribune
Former state Sen. Dallas Sams, who battled brain cancer through a losing reelection campaign last year, died Monday at St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Paul. He was 54.
The death of the Staples DFLer was announced on the Senate floor, where members observed a moment of silence.
Senate Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, said that pending legislation Sams championed to dedicate a portion of Minnesota's sales tax to funding for the outdoors will be dedicated to his memory. Praise for Sams came from Republicans as well.
"He was a consummate legislator, able to work both sides of the aisle," said Senate Minority Leader David Senjem, R-Rochester. "He was someone who put policy ahead of politics. We'll miss him a lot."
Sams' 16 years in the Senate ended with his loss to Republican Bill Ingebrigtsen in last November's election. Sams' illness and treatment hampered his ability to campaign, and Senjem said he probably would have been reelected had he been healthy.
A dairy farmer, agriculture management teacher, airplane pilot and motorcycle enthusiast, Sams concentrated on rural issues as a senator. According to Politics in Minnesota, the Directory, he pushed through legislation aimed at attracting young people to farming and helping rural hospitals stay in business.
"Minnesota lost a true champion of the outdoors, agriculture and veterans today," Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in a news release. "Senator Sams was loved by everyone around the Capitol for his caring nature, good humor and common sense."
Sen. Dick Day, R-Owatonna, who often drove Sams to treatment sessions at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, called him "my best friend as a Democrat." Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, said that Sams "carried a lot of controversial issues, but he could disagree without being disagreeable. He was fun to be around."
Senator Sams represented my hometown in Grant County, and I'd follow the news about him in my hometown newspaper.
I didn't agree with him on every issue, but he was a great role model of the citizen legislator.
Senator Ingebrigtsen, a former sheriff from Alexandria who won Sams' seat last fall, had the full support of nutty theocrats like the Minnesota Family Council. He regularly says outrageous, hateful things about immigrants. Senator Sams paid a big price for not supporting Senator Michele Bachmann's effort to push a marriage amendment to the Senate floor without a committee process.