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Graves: Strategy won't change with Bachmann out of the race

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Jim Graves

WASHINGTON — Even though his would-be rival Rep. Michele Bachmann has decided to forgo running for re-election, 6th District DFL candidate Jim Graves said he’s not looking to change his campaign’s message or strategy going forward.

“What we saw was very promising from our perspective in that the message we were delivering, bringing the business skill set to the table, bringing a leader who's tenacious, who would really go to Washington to effect change and make positive solutions to the problems we’re facing, that was resonating really well,” he said in an interview Wednesday afternoon.

Going forward, Graves said the message will be similar to what it is now, that it’s been crafted really to boost him rather than wear down an opponent, even one whose controversial nature is as potent as Bachmann’s.

Even going back to Graves’ 2012 campaign, he's never really taken aim at the more divisive aspects of Bachmann’s congressional tenure. Sure, he made hay over her Muslim Brotherhood pronouncements last summer, for example, but when the election drew nearer, he spent more time going after what he called her lack of effectiveness as a lawmaker.

Heading into a presumed rematch with Bachmann, Graves has been fashioning himself as an economy-oriented DFLer, highlighting his business experience (he’s a hotelier) and pushing wonky tax policy proposals, rather than going at Bachmann.

His strategy, then, has been trying to draw voters to him, rather than away from Bachmann, and he said that shouldn’t change now that she’s out of the race.

 “At the end of the day, we’re focusing on the people that want to be informed and are interested in really finding solutions to the real problems we’ve got,” he said.  “We’ve got solutions to all these if we can just sit down and talk and work it out.”

Graves said he’s not paying too much attention to the (very) early chatter about potential Republican rivals, and he’s not too worried Bachmann’s retirement will hurt his chances in what is a very conservative district, made competitive by a controversial incumbent.

“I know we’re just going to stay focused on what we’ve always been focused on,” he said.

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