Democrat Who Nearly Beat Michele Bachmann Won’t Run For Her Seat
Jim Graves, who came within 4,300 votes of defeating Michele Bachmann last year, will not be running for her seat now that she’s retiring:
Minnesota businessman Jim Graves, a top Democratic recruit who had been planning a rematch against Rep. Michele Bachmann next year, abruptly suspended his campaign Friday morning — two days after Bachmann announced she wouldn’t be seeking reelection.
Graves, who nearly knocked off Bachmann in November, launched his campaign last month and was in Washington last week to meet with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He released a poll showing him with a slight lead over Bachmann in a 2014 rematch.
But with the controversial Bachmann out of the race, Graves faced an even tougher path in a conservative suburban Twin Cities district broke for Mitt Romney by nearly 15 percent.
Graves broke the news in an interview with MinnPost Friday, saying Bachmann’s exit clinched his decision to forgo another run to focus on his business and family.
This isn’t entirely surprising. Bachmann’s district is rated as strongly Republican, a fact reflected by the fact that Mitt Romney won the district quite handily last year notwithstanding the fact that Bachmann barely won re-election. Clearly there were a lot of Romney voters in the Minnesota 6th who voted for Jim Graves, almost enough to get Bachmann booted from Congress. That indicates that she was an albatross in the district, but that Republicans are still likely to win there if there was someone other than her on the ballot. Indeed, if you go back and look at each of Bachmann’s elections — 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012 — she won by margins that were out of step with the heavily Republican nature of the district. One would expect a Republican who is not Michele Bachmann will do much better.
Nate Silver made this observation after Bachmann announced her retirement:
Last year, Mrs. Bachmann’s performance was conspicuously poor in her district, Minnesota’s sixth. President Obama lost to Mitt Romney by 15 percentage points there, but Mrs. Bachmann defeated her Democratic opponent, Jim Graves, by only one percentage point.
That’s not to say that Democrats will have zero chance of picking up Mrs. Bachmann’s seat. The party won a few open-seat or special-election races in such districts in 2006 and 2008, strong years for the party. And they won the open United States Senate race in North Dakota last year, which gave a similar share of its vote to Mr. Obama.
But parties rarely have strong years in midterm elections when they hold the White House, and Congressional races are becoming more and more predictable based on the overall partisanship of a district. The Democrats’ chance of winning the Minnesota seat might now be on the order of 5 to 10 percent, versus perhaps 40 percent with Mrs. Bachmann on the ballot.
Now that Graves, arguably the strongest and most well-financed candidate Minnesota Democrats had, is out of the race, it’s probably lower than that.