A self-described Eisenhower Republican, Dave Bishop was first elected to the Minnesota House of Representative in 1982 . He expected to serve for two years, but stayed for 20.

Bishop died Aug. 3 at the age of 91.

Representing the Rochester area in the House, he called himself a member of the "bridge-building caucus." He chose to make cross-party cooperation his norm. Known for his sense of humor and his ability to see all sides of issues, Bishop earned respect from both parties.

He relished tackling the tough issues, being in the scrum of legislative debate and working out compromises. He was aided by a brash, out-sized personality. He was no political wallflower. He loved being the smartest person in the room, or proving that he was.

Here's how some of those who witnessed Bishop at work recall him.

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Dave Bishop stood out as a go-to legislator who angled for compromise rather than scoring political points.

When Republicans were playing hardball, Bishop was relegated more to the background. But if they were looking for a deal and a bridge-builder, Bishop was often tapped for the job.

"He was respected. When he got involved toward the end of a legislative session, when deals were struck, he was a popular guy to put on a conference committee. He was someone who could find his way forward at a time of partisan division."

-- Lori Sturdevant, a retired Star Tribune editorial writer, assignment editor and reporter, covered the Minnesota Legislature for four decades.


"He didn't look at government as something that could be the answer to everything. He looked at specific things that only government could do. That's a different type of legislator than we have now."

One enduring image that Gene Pelowski carries with him is of Bishop carrying around a stack of files under his arm, making the rounds to legislators' offices. It was how he worked out deals. If a legislator had a problem with legislation, Bishop would try to work out a solution. To keep information at his fingertips, he "literally carried his office with him."

"You have to remember. This is before the interne. And in committee or on the floor, he was something to watch. He had no time at all for people who were just there to make political points. And if you crossed him, he would let you know."

-- DFL state Rep. Gene Pelowki, of Winona.


"He loved doing something that would be unexpected. He loved a good argument."

"He did not mind bucking anybody. There was no one that he felt he couldn't share his views and his opinion and push them to do the things that he thought needed to be done."

"He wasn't afraid. He had the courage of his intellect, of his own convictions."

There's also the tale about passenger Bishop complaining about traveling too slowly on U.S. 52. He would urge the driver to step on it, saying "I'll pay the ticket!"

-- Olmsted County Commissioner Sheila Kiscaden, a former state senator


Bishop had good relations with state and local media, keeping index cards of key points and information he had gathered from lobbyists, legislators or the governor. They were the equivalent of today's smart phone and he kept them in his pocket.

Mike Dougherty said Bishop was a good source, always willing to share information and reward diligent reporters.

"He was always about the suspense. He was really good about keeping local reporters informed. Sometimes, he would give you a glimpse to see if you could figure things out, if you could work with other sources, then come back, 'Oh, very impressive.'"

Iin the late 1990s, the state was run by GOP Gov. Arne Carlson and Democrats controlled the House and Senate. Normally, that would diminish the role for a House Republican in the minority. But Bishop thrived in that role, going back and forth between the the governor and DFL legislative leaders.

"If Bishop was a on conference committee, it meant they were working to cut a deal. Nowadays, cutting a deal is considered a pejorative. But it was really about getting things done for the people of the state of Minnesota."

-- Mike Dougherty, former Post Bulletin legislative reporter


Bishop was a creature of the state House, but he had ambitions to run for the Senate. Though he sometimes made fun of its culture, he thought the body had more prestige.

In 1992, Bishop saw his chance to move to the Senate when then-Sen. Nancy Brataas announced her retirement. He approached Sheila Kiscaden and told her he was going to run for Brataas's seat. He urged Kiscaden to run for his House seat.

But eventually, Kiscaden was prevailed upon to run for the Senate, but she only agreed to do it if she could secure Bishop's blessing. When they met, Kiscaden told Bishop she wouldn't run for the Senate until she had an assurance from him that he wouldn't hold it against her.

Bishop left their meeting, telling Kiscaden that he had to think about it. She didn't hear from him for three weeks. Two days before before filing, Bishop called. He told her he didn't want to give up his seniority in the House and that she should run for the Senate. He never held it against her.