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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.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Latino_in_Boston says:

    I have a hard time understanding this decision. You already have the campaign in place, you would have some name recognition, you might even win? Why drop out so soon?

    If his sole motivation was getting rid of Bachmann, though (commendable as that might be), it tells me he would be a lousy congressman.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  2. gVOR08 says:

    @Latino_in_Boston: What Nate said

    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.

    Why assume his motivation was anything more complicated than to win the seat? Which just got a lot more difficult and expensive with a lot worse odds.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. mantis says:

    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.

    It’s reflected by the fact that Bachmann has won there several times despite being nucking futs. Candidates like her only win in districts dominated by one party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  4. stonetools says:

    Oh well, too bad. I was hoping for a Democrat pickup. The likelihood is that we will get someone there is who is quietly wingnut, rather than loudly wingnut.

    I prefer the loud ones. You hear them coming.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  5. Ben says:

    @Latino_in_Boston:

    I have a hard time understanding this decision. You already have the campaign in place, you would have some name recognition, you might even win? Why drop out so soon?

    Because Bachmann was basically the only Republican he had a chance against in the election? Most people don’t want to spend a ton of money and time on a quixotic effort to win an unwinnable election.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. @Ben:

    Indeed, it’s worth noting that Graves put a not inconsiderable amount of his own money into the 2012 race. There’s only so many times you can justify doing that even if you are wealthy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Caj says:

    I hope another Democrat will take up the challenge. But I’m so glad that Michele Bachmann’s ridiculous grinning face will be gone. How she lasted that long in Minnesota God only knows!
    Are those people really that stupid?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  8. Latino_in_Boston says:

    I get it, I get it. The odds are far more daunting without Bachmann in the race. But he was already committed to the campaign and he doesn’t even know who his potential opponent might be. Why not wait till then? I would think that the additional money he might spend would be relatively inconsequential, especially when he has already spent so much.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Lynn says:

    Suppose he’ll send my contribution back?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0