MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Winston “Win” Borden, a Minnesota state senator who pushed for environmental causes in the 1970s but was later convicted for failing to file tax returns after his fish-farming business collapsed, has died. He was 70.
Borden, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party from Brainerd, died Monday evening at a local hospital, said Erik Christensen, funeral director of Nelson-Doran Funeral Home in Brainerd, which is handling the services. Christensen did not know the cause of death.
Borden drew a following late in life for contemplative Facebook postings structured as a dialogue with his old kitchen stove. His final years were spent farming organic vegetables, flowers and herbs near Merrifield, the Star Tribune reported.
Former DFL state Sen. Don Samuelson of Brainerd recalled that Borden, who managed Samuelson’s successful 1968 Minnesota House campaign, was a natural when it came to politics.
“What I liked about him is that he showed up and he wanted to help,” Samuelson said. “It was in his blood.”
Former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe said Borden was a hard charger who took on tough issues. For example, he backed a successful bill allowing banks to open branches in other cities in Minnesota and also unsuccessful “ban the can” legislation to require a deposit on containers to encourage recycling.
“He was well prepared and a very effective legislator,” Moe told the Brainerd Dispatch.
Borden’s first win at the polls was in 1970, when the 26-year-old upset state Sen. Gordon Rosenmeier of Little Falls. After gaining a reputation as an environmentalist in the Minnesota Senate and winning re-election in 1972 and 1976, Borden surprised many by resigning to accept a leadership role with the Minnesota Association of Commerce and Industry, forerunner of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
Borden went into private practice as an attorney in 1990, and was a lobbyist at the Minnesota Capitol, but then he switched to a fish farming business. In 2004, Borden was convicted of failing to file federal income tax returns and served about a year in a federal prison camp.
“The blame is totally mine,” Borden said at the time. He pointed to the fishing farm’s collapse and alcohol addiction as factors that led to his tax violations.
He reflected fondly on his time in public service during a 2008 interview with the Brainerd Dispatch, but he didn’t seem in a hurry to return to politics.
“Thoroughly enjoyed it,” he told the newspaper. “Never want to repeat it.”
Borden is survived by his son and two daughters.
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