DULUTH, Minn. — State Senator David Tomassino, a veteran lawmaker from Iron Range who championed efforts to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease, died after a year-long battle with the incurable neurological disease. He was 69. Tomassino, a Democrat, was elected to the House in 1992 and the Senate in 2000 — a 30-year span in the Legislature. As one of his last major accomplishment, Tomassino authored a $25 million bill to fund research into ALS, as the disease is usually known, and to support caregivers. Governor Tim Walz signed the bill in March. Tomassino visited the Capitol for the ceremony, albeit in a wheelchair and communicating with a computerized speech synthesizer. “This bill means hope,” he managed to say.


Tim Walz, governor: “David was a champion for his constituents, the Iron Range, and all of Minnesota. I am honored to have known him and to have worked together to pass millions of dollars in funding for ALS research and caregiver support last session. His legacy will continue to help people in Minnesota for generations.”


Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, and Senate president: “It was an honor to work with him on the funding for ALS research this past session, I’m hopeful the funding from this bill will help find a cure for ALS and honor David’s legacy.”

Farewell applause.  Senators from both sides of the aisle offer an ovation for Tomassino. The occasion celebrated the passage of major state funding for ALS research.

Tomassino profile

He grew up Chisholm. He held a degree in business from the University of Denver. He spent 16 years playing professional hockey in Italy. He was on Italy’s national team for the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics. He was a member of the Minnesota House from 1997 to 2001 and served as assistant majority leader. He was elected to the Senate in 2000 and was majority whip from 2001 to 2007. His victory margins typically were 7:3. In 2020 when Democrats lost their majority in the Senate, Tomassino and Senator Thomas Bakk, also from the Range, left the Democratic party to form their own independent caucus. Although Tomassino then caucused with Republicans, he still identified as a Democrat. In an usual event considering the circumstances, Republicans elected him Senate president. In March 2021 he was diagnosed with ALS.