The Potluck

Minnesota Iron Range Sen. David Tomassoni dies at 69

By: - August 12, 2022 11:31 am

The late Senate President David Tomassoni, I-Chisholm. Photo by Minnesota Senate Media.

Minnesota Sen. David Tomassoni, 69, died on Thursday evening after announcing last year he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

Tomassoni was first elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1992 and the Senate in 2000 as a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, but after the 2020 election caucused as an independent with Republicans and served as president pro tem of the upper chamber. 

He had been in hospice care at a facility in Duluth. ALS, often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a fatal neurological disease that progressively degenerates the spinal cord and brain. There is currently no cure for ALS.

In March, Tomassoni helped spearhead a bill that allocated $20 million towards ALS research and another $5 million for ALS caregiving.

“The legacy he leaves is enormous, and his passion for public service benefited countless lives,” said Sen. Tom Bakk, a fellow Iron Range senator, in a statement. “His selflessness in advocating for ALS research could not save his life but may save the lives of millions who follow in his footsteps.”

Tomassoni was chair of the Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee and a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee and Mining and Forestry Policy Committee. 

Tomassoni, who played professional hockey in Italy as a young man, was known as a stalwart defender of the Iron Range and its major industries of mining, logging and tourism.  

He is survived by his wife Charlotte, three children and six grandchildren.

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Michelle Griffith
Michelle Griffith

Michelle Griffith covers Minnesota politics and policy for the Reformer, with a focus on marginalized communities. Most recently she was a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead in North Dakota where she covered state and local government and Indigenous issues. For two years she was also a corps member with Report for America, a national nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms and news deserts. She lives in St. Paul and likes to knit and watch documentaries in her free time.