Jim Ramstad
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Minnesota's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2009
Preceded byBill Frenzel
Succeeded byErik Paulsen
Member of the Minnesota Senate
from the 45th district
43rd (1981–1983)
In office
January 6, 1981 – January 3, 1991
Preceded byEmily Anne Staples
Succeeded byJudy Traub
Personal details
James Marvin Ramstad

(1946-05-06)May 6, 1946
Jamestown, North Dakota, U.S.
DiedNovember 5, 2020(2020-11-05) (aged 74)
Wayzata, Minnesota, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Kathryn Mitchell
(m. 2005)
EducationUniversity of Minnesota (BA)
George Washington University (JD)
Occupationattorney, political assistant
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Army Reserve
Years of service1968–1975
RankFirst Lieutenant

James Marvin Ramstad (May 6, 1946 – November 5, 2020) was an American lawyer and politician who represented Minnesota's 3rd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1991 to 2009. A member of the Republican Party, Ramstad served in the Minnesota Senate from 1981 to 1991.

Ramstad was first elected to the Minnesota Senate in 1981 and was reelected until 1990, when he was elected to represent Minnesota’s 3rd congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ramstad won reelection in the suburban congressional district eight times, all by landslide margins.[1] He had a reputation as a moderate Republican.[2] Ramstad chose to retire and not seek reelection in 2008. He was succeeded by Republican State Representative Erik Paulsen. Throughout his legislative career and later life, Ramstad, empowered by his prior struggles with alcoholism, was a notable advocate for addiction recovery.[3]

In 2020, Ramstad died from Parkinson's disease at the age of 74.

Early life and education

Ramstad was born in Jamestown, North Dakota on May 6, 1946.[4] He was educated at the University of Minnesota and the George Washington University Law School. He was an officer in the United States Army Reserve from 1968 to 1974.[5] He also worked as a private practice attorney and as a legislative aide to the Minnesota House of Representatives.


He served on the Wayzata-Plymouth Chemical Health Commission, Plymouth Human Rights Commission, and the Minnesota State Human Rights Advisory Committee from 1979 to 1980.

Ramstad was a Republican member of the Minnesota State Senate from 1981 to 1990 before entering the U.S. Congress. He served in the 102nd, 103rd, 104th, 105th, 106th, 107th, 108th, 109th, and 110th congresses, beginning on January 3, 1991. He first defeated former Minneapolis city councilman Lou DeMars in the 1990 election.


Ramstad was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1991 until 2009, representing Minnesota's 3rd congressional district, one of eight congressional districts in Minnesota. On September 17, 2007 Ramstad announced he would not seek reelection in 2008.[6] He reiterated his statement on December 19, 2007.[7]

Ramstad considered ending discrimination against those suffering from mental health and addiction problems a major part of his legacy. He worked under both Republican and Democratic majorities to pass a Mental Health Parity Bill. Mental Health Parity was eventually passed and signed into law in December, 2008.[8][9]

Congressman Jim Ramstad on the steps of the U.S. Capitol
Congressman Jim Ramstad on the steps of the U.S. Capitol w/ Speaker Pelosi, Congressman Kennedy, Majority Leader Hoyer and David Wellstone, son of the late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone.

Ramstad was mentioned as a possible candidate for Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in the administration of President Barack Obama.[10] However, the position eventually went to former Seattle police chief Gil Kerlikowske.

Ramstad considered running for Governor of Minnesota in the 2010 election,[11] but decided not to.[12]

At the time of his death, Ramstad was a resident fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics where he was leading a study group titled The Policy and Politics of Addiction.[13]

Political positions

Ramstad was a member of The Republican Main Street Partnership. He was pro-choice and supported embryonic stem cell research. He was opposed to gay marriage.[14] He voted in favor of an amendment to a whistleblower protection bill that would have allowed the government to influence stem-cell research.[15]

He was considered to be the most moderate Republican member of the Minnesota delegation in the 109th Congress, scoring 68 percent conservative by a conservative group[16] and 21% progressive by a liberal group.[17]

Personal life

Ramstad was a recovering alcoholic. For a time, he was Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy's Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor.[18] He was a long-time advocate for addiction treatment and recovery services, and at the time of his death he had been sober for 39 years.[19]

Ramstad's sister, Sheryl Ramstad, is a Tax Court judge in Minnesota. Ramstad was a member of the United Church of Christ.

On February 25, 2008, it was announced that Ramstad had been elected to the board of directors of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.[20]

In 2010, Ramstad joined alliantgroup as a senior advisor on their Strategic Advisory Board.[21]

He died of Parkinson's disease on November 5, 2020, aged 74, at his home in Wayzata, Minnesota.[22]

Committee assignments

Electoral history

Minnesota's 3rd congressional district: Results 1990–2006[23]
Year DFL Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1990 Lou Demars 96,395 33% Jim Ramstad 195,833 67% Write-ins 624 <1%
1992 Paul Mandell 104,606 33% Jim Ramstad 200,240 64% Dwight Fellman Grass Roots 9,164 3% Write-ins 721 <1%
1994 Bob Olson 62,211 26% Jim Ramstad 173,223 73% Write-ins 1,097 <1%
1996 Stan J. Leino 87,350 30% Jim Ramstad 205,816 70% *
1998 Stan J. Leino 66,505 23% Jim Ramstad 203,731 72% Derek W. Schramm Minnesota Taxpayers 12,823 5% *
2000 Sue Shuff 98,219 30% Jim Ramstad 222,571 68% Bob Odden Libertarian 5,302 2% Arne Niska Constitution 2,970 1%
2002 Darryl Stanton 82,575 28% Jim Ramstad 213,334 72% *
2004 Deborah Watts 126,665 35% Jim Ramstad 231,871 65% *
2006 Wendy Wilde 99,588 35% Jim Ramstad 184,333 65% *
Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1996, write-ins received 417 votes. In 1998, write-ins received 250 votes. In 2002, write-ins received 309 votes. In 2004, write-ins received 356 votes. In 2006, write-ins received 323 votes.


  1. ^ "Former US Rep. Jim Ramstad, champion of recovery, dies at 74". AP NEWS. April 28, 2021. Retrieved August 11, 2022.
  2. ^ "With Jim Ramstad's death, Minnesota has lost a committed recovery advocate". MinnPost. November 6, 2020. Retrieved August 11, 2022.
  3. ^ "Former Rep. Jim Ramstad has died at 74". MPR News. November 6, 2020. Retrieved August 11, 2022.
  4. ^ "Candidate Biography: Jim Marvin Ramstad". Fox News. Retrieved October 24, 2008.
  5. ^ "Veterans in the US House of Representatives 109th Congress" (PDF). Navy League. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 26, 2007. Retrieved December 9, 2006.
  6. ^ Fred Frommer, Fred (September 17, 2007). "Ramstad announces his retirement from Congress". Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved September 17, 2007.
  7. ^ "Ramstad Says He Has No 'Plans' To Seek Re-Election". WCCO. December 19, 2007. Archived from the original on December 21, 2007. Retrieved December 20, 2007.
  8. ^ "Interview with IOP Fellow Jim Ramstad". Harvard Citizen. April 29, 2009. Archived from the original on August 17, 2011. Retrieved December 3, 2009.
  9. ^ "Ramstad Obituary". Boston Globe.
  10. ^ "Drug Czar Ramstad?". Minnesota Independent. December 3, 2008. Archived from the original on December 6, 2008. Retrieved December 3, 2008.
  11. ^ Doug Grow (June 30, 2009). "For good or bad, GOP's Jim Ramstad could be the ultimate man in the middle of 2010 governor's race". MinnPost. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  12. ^ Doug Grow (July 14, 2009). "GOP's Jim Ramstad decides not to enter governor's race". MinnPost. Retrieved December 15, 2014.
  13. ^ "The Harvard Crimson :: News :: IOP Names Spring Fellows". Archived from the original on February 13, 2009.
  14. ^ Jim Ramstad on the Issues Retrieved October 24, 2006
  15. ^ Clerk of the House: Final Vote Results for Roll Call 150
  16. ^ "ACU Ratings of Congress, 2006". American Conservative Union. 2006. Archived from the original on September 3, 2007. Retrieved September 8, 2007.
  17. ^ "Leading with the Left". Progressive Punch. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved September 10, 2007.
  18. ^ Colman, David (May 6, 2011). "Challenging the Second 'A' in A.A." New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  19. ^ "Ramstad Obituary". Boston Globe.
  20. ^ "U.S. Congressman Jim Ramstad Elected to CASA Board of Directors". CASA Columbia. Retrieved February 25, 2008.
  21. ^ "Alliantgroup Bolsters Top Tax Talent with Congressman Jim Ramstad | Minnesota Business Magazine | Minnesota Business Blogs | Minnesota Business". Archived from the original on April 22, 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2011.
  22. ^ "Longtime Rep. Jim Ramstad, a champion for addiction help, has died". Mprnews.org. November 5, 2020. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  23. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Archived from the original on July 25, 2007. Retrieved January 10, 2008.
U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byBill Frenzel Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota's 3rd congressional district January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2009 Succeeded byErik Paulsen