Grams said his upbringing on a farm helped shape his view of government. He still pays attention to action on the Hill and is able to have his say on the issues of the day thanks to a radio talk show he hosts on a local station that he owns.
It’s those bonds, he said, that are paramount to having any legislative success, let alone a good time. He recalled his relationship with fellow Minnesotan Tim Penny, a former House Democrat who is still a close friend. When Grams was a freshman representative, Penny would come up to him on the floor and try to convince him to vote one way or another on a given piece of legislation.
Coming from a Democrat, even a conservative one like Penny, that was suspicious to Grams. In reality, Penny acted not as a saboteur, he eventually realized, but out of an interest in what Grams called good government over party politics. That, after all, is what brought him to Capitol Hill in the first place, but it might have gotten lost in all the hubbub if not for that early counsel.
“Everything you do shouldn’t be party or shouldn’t be politics,” Grams said. “I kind of learned that from Tim.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.