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Bachmann's Democratic opponent bows out of race

Michele Bachmann
won’t be running next year -- and now neither will her 2012 Democratic opponent, Jim Graves.

Just two days after the onetime Republican presidential candidate announced her retirement, Graves is suspending his campaign in the GOP-leaning suburban Twin Cities seat.

Graves, who narrowly lost to Bachmann in 2012, said in a statement that -- win or lose -- he had achieved his goal of removing Bachmann from office.

“This was never about Jim Graves; this was about challenging the ineffective leadership and extremist ideology of Michele Bachmann on behalf of those she represents,” he said in a statement. “As of Wednesday, that goal was accomplished -- and our supporters are and should be incredibly proud of that accomplishment.”

Graves told the MinnPost that there was a “Mission Accomplished” feeling when the Tea Party favorite announced she wouldn’t run again.

“She wasn’t representing the people of the 6th District appropriately, and now she won’t be representing them,” he told the website. “There’s no way anyone could run and win who would be worse than Michele Bachmann. So we accomplished that task.”

A wealthy hotel magnate, Graves came within 4,296 votes of defeating Bachmann last fall, even as Mitt Romney won the district by 15 points. The 6th District was drawn to be the most Republican in the state, and without Bachmann on the ballot, Graves’ chances dropped immediately after she announced she wasn’t running. In 2008, John McCain got 55 percent in the district, while Bush captured 58 percent in 2004. But Bachmann consistently underperformed the top of the ticket, though Democrats were never able to topple the congresswoman.

In an eight-minute video posted to her website Wednesday morning, Bachmann denied her retirement had anything to do with her chances at winning re-election or investigations into whether she paid an Iowa state senator to work on her presidential campaign.

Before Bachmann’s announcement, Graves had already been named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s new “Jumpstart” program for promising early recruits.

But Democrats, too, echoed Graves, saying that just forcing Bachmann out was symptomatic of the GOP as a whole

“We expect this district will feature a bitter Republican primary fight over who can get the furthest to the right the fastest, and we’ll monitor the race as it develops,” said DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner. “Regardless of whether Michele Bachmann is running, her brand of extremism and obstruction has infected the Republican Party – and it will be on the ballot in MN-06 and Republican-held districts across the country where we will fight to elect commonsense problem-solvers.”