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Michele Bachmann announces she will not run for re-election

WASHINGTON — Minnesota U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has announced she will not run for re-election to her 6th District House seat in 2014, though she said her prospects for being re-elected and the investigations into her former presidential campaign had no impact on her decision.

She made the announcement in a video sent to supporters overnight:

Bachmann, 57, said her decision was not influenced by a potential rematch with DFLer Jim Graves, who came within 4,300 votes of Bachmann last election, or by the legal and ethics inquiries into her presidential campaign and its staffers. The FBI, the Federal Elections Commission, congressional ethics officers and officials in Iowa are said to be investigating potential campaign finance violations connected to the campaign and its staffers.

"It was clearly understood that compliance with all rules and regulations was an absolute necessity for my presidential campaign, and I have no reason to believe that that was not the case," she said in the video.  

In fact, Bachmann didn't give a formal reason for retiring, except to say that she considered four terms in the U.S. House enough. Even though there aren't term limits for members of Congress, she said, presidents are only allowed to serve for eight years, and, "in my opinion, well, eight years is also long enough an individual to serve as representative for a specific congressional district."

"I am confident that this is the right decision," she said. "For some, a single two-year House term is enough service. For others, ten terms, or two decades in the House, is still not enough service."

Bachmann said she considered retiring last year after ending her presidential campaign, except that, with only nine months to go before the election, she was worried a new Republican candidate wouldn't have enough time to pull together a campaign.

"I refuse to allow this decision to put this Republican seat in jeopardy," she said. "And so I ran, and I won."

The video will probably be the last word from Bachmann today. She's reportedly on a congressional trip to Russia, and a spokesman otherwise declined comment.

Bachmann seemed prepared to run for re-election to her House seat in 2014, raising nearly $700,000 during the first three months of 2013 and actively seeking more from her deep small-dollar donor base, especially after Graves announced his second challenge to her. She even purchased a round of television ads after the House passed her bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act on May 16, an usually early ad buy for a congressional candidate.

But there were strong indications that, after her narrow victory in 2012, national Democrats would redouble their efforts against Bachmann next year. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had indicated it would help Graves, and liberal superPACs were lining up to challenge Bachmann's candidacy.

"I think that she’s read the tea leaves," Graves told KARE 11 Wednesday morning. He said he thinks voters in the 6th District are looking for someone with business experience who understands the economy.

"Nothing really changes at all for our messaging," he said. "We were running for the people, not against Michele Bachmann anyway."

Though Bachmann is a favorite among conservatives and Tea Party groups, she underperformed with the electorate at large, relative to the deeply conservative 6th district — Mitt Romney won the district by more than 15 percent in 2012, while Bachmann won by just 1.3 percent. Last week, the Graves campaign put out an internal poll showing a statistically-tied race between the two.

In her video, Bachmann listed a string of accomplishments from her time in the House, from local issues like securing federal approval to build a new bridge over the St. Croix River to leading national conservatives' efforts against the Obama administration.

Between now and the end of her term, "I will continue to work vehemently and robustly to fight back against what most in the other party want to do to transform our country into becoming," she said.

Bachmann didn't indicate what she'll do after retiring from the House, though she didn't rule out a return to politics in the future.

"Looking forward after the completion of my term, my future is full, it is limitless and my passions for America will remain," she said. "I want you to be assured that there is no future option or opportunity, be it directly in the political arena or otherwise, that I won't be giving serious consideration, if it can help save and protect our great nation for future generations."

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com. Follow him on Twitter: @dhenry

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Comments (12)

I wish you the best of luck

I wish you the best of luck in your new endeavors, Rep Bachmann.

I'm sure that you will succeed in the private sector just as much as you succeeded in the public sector.

Bachmann

This announcement is a bummer for Graves as Bachmann is an easy target to run against. Now he has to gear up for an unknown opponent, which will be a lot tougher to do.

I Can Only Add This to My List

of things that make me go hmmm,...

and wonder what it is that we don't yet know that caused Rep. Bachmann to bow out.

I suspect there's a great deal more to this story.

Satire

The Daily Currant ran this story a couple of weeks ago (well, at least that Bachmann was leaving the state). It was satire then. This time, Bachmann put out her own video. It's hard to tell when she's not doing satire herself, though, so forgive me if I don't hold my breath.

I agree that Graves may now have an uphill battle. Not only is he going to have an unknown opponent, his supporters might lose interest now that the target of their ire is gone. I hope that's not the case. Graves appears to be a pretty decent candidate.

I am politically independent

I am politically independent and have voted for politicians of both parties. That said, this is the best news I've heard in a while. While she represented just one district in MN, she was a complete black eye to the entire state. I will give her credit for bipartisan support of the new Stillwater Bridge, but other than that I can't think of a positive thing she did for MN. Her main goal seemed to be to spread the Tea Party mantra which got old fast.

Stillwater Bridge

Personally, I would consider the Stillwater bridge to be another black eye for the simple reason that we don't want to encourage yet more urban sprawl. That money would be much better spent putting in another light rail line, expanding bus service, or fixing the roads and bridges we already have.

The Next Huey Long Lecture

I had a teacher in high school who had this great class lecture about Huey Long in the New Deal. He would describe incredible tales about Long's antics while governor of Louisiana, and it fascinated me that Long was able to garner support from the electorate, seemingly aided by his behavior. I think it was the first time I started to ask myself about the environment that would propel an individual such as Long to power. Thirty years from now (or less) some history teacher may be inspiring students with an explanation of why Michele Bachmann existed in a state whose other presidential wannabies included the likes of Humphrey, Stassen, Mondale, and McCarthy. Here's to teachers who inspire students to wonder why, and to politicians who inspire us to scratch our heads in confusion (as this video did to me this morning).

no suprise here

It's likely any investigation of her or the husband will turn up improprieties aplenty. The double standard has always been her war shield.

The Perfect Storm

The investigations of her presidential campaign were certainly one factor in her decision not to run again. Her close race against Jim Graves was another factor. She is no longer seen as unbeatable, and her reelection this time around was looking far more competitive.

I'm guessing that there were a couple of other factors at work. More Republicans are making noises about how the party is not being helped by the vociferous extremists Bachmann personifies. her congressional career was on a fast track to nowhere--she was never going to get any closer to being in the House leadership than being the head of a made-up Tea Party caucus. The logical thing for a member of Congress in that situation is to concentrate on being the real representative of his/her district. Bring home the bacon on federal money, see that the roads get fixed, keep those Social Security checks coming. That sort of thing isn't her style. Rep. Bachmann's congressional staff is heavily weighted towards media types who are good at getting her booked on Fox and Friends. Getting that deserving kid from back home into West Point? Not so much. Real representation on real issues isn't her idiom.

As an aside, only a fool would think she could make a credible run for statewide office. Rep. Bachmann may be many things, but she is not stupid. That idea is a non-starter.

Leaving her Options Open

Rep. Bachmann specifically states: "...8 years is also long enough for an individual representative to serve in a specific congressional district." This leaves a lot of possibilities open - especially since she doesn't even live in the 6th district anymore.

LOL!

She'd never run in the 4th! She's shrewd enough to realize there's no way she could win -- unless Cheney came out of retirement and arranged another plane crash.

Bachmann's decision a relief for District 6

Michele Bachmann has finally done something good for the residents of District 6. Here's hoping her successor will actually spend time representing the needs and desires of the district's residents. What a change that would be! I wonder who the Koch brothers will run in her place?