Grams died Tuesday at his home in Corwn, Minn., after entering hospice care, longtime friend and family spokesman Kent Kaiser said Wednesday.
Grams was a homebuilder and anchor on KMSP-TV, Minneapolis-St.Paul, when he entered the political arena in 1992. Running as a Republican, he defeated U.S. Rep. Gerry Sikorski, in Minnesota's Sixth District.
He served one term in the House before running for an open U.S. Senate seat. He defeated Democrat Ann Wynia and served one term before losing to Democrat Mark Dayton, now the state's governor.
Friends and supporters said Grams conducted himself with class and was respectful of friend and foe alike, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Wednesday.
"Senator Grams was one of the most thoughtful, principled and kindhearted public servants the state of Minnesota has ever known," said Republican state Rep. Kurt Zellers.
After a failed bid to return to politics in 2006, Grams and his wife, Chris, purchased three radio stations and Grams hosted a one-hour political talk show until September, when failing health forced him off the air.