Why did Reed back out of Bachmann fight? Follow the money

WASHINGTON — Just past the point when Maureen Reed’s name could be removed from the ballot, Reed withdrew from her congressional challenge in the 6th District, leaving Tarryl Clark alone in what was expected to be a hotly contested Democratic primary.

While you’re likely to hear the usual bits about “avoiding a damaging primary” and “unifying the party” in an effort to unseat Michele Bachmann, make no mistake that much of this decision came down to dollars and cents.

Specifically, the fact that a 3-to-1 cash disadvantage now would turn into (my guess here) about an 8-to-1 disadvantage for the winner of a contested primary.

I posed that theory to Trevor Willett, the now-former campaign chairman for Reed for Congress, who confirmed that the above paragraph was a “relatively important piece of it.”

“We’ve both shown prowess in raising money,” he said. However, “consolidating Democrats behind one candidate at this point will make Tarryl more competitive in the fall.”

Both Clark and Reed had amassed massive war chests for their fight against Bachmann, with Clark taking in a record $505,000 in the first quarter. Reed raised $204,000 in the first quarter — a whopping haul for a challenger in any other race — and fed her campaign an additional $250,000 loan to keep pace.

Bachmann, however, pulled in $810,000 in the first quarter — more than all but one other representative in Congress. Looking at just cash on hand, Bachmann held about a 3-to-1 advantage.

It’s a fairly safe bet that Bachmann will pull in more than $1 million in the second quarter, which ends at the end of this month. That sum will include the estimated $500,000+ raised at the Sarah Palin fundraiser, as well as anything else she raised between then and June 30.

Reed hinted about the monetary reasons in her statement ending her campaign.

“During the past few days, I have come to the conclusion that a prolonged primary fight only assists Michele Bachmann,” Reed said. “The other DFL challenger, Tarryl Clark, has amassed more resources, and I feel that it is time for the DFL to unify behind one candidate in this race.”

Reed’s name will remain on the primary ballot, something Willett said was due to “unfortunate timing.”

“We didn’t quite do that in time,” he said, noting that decisions this big aren’t made in haste (Reed said in the statment that her decision came over the “past few days”). The deadline to withdraw was 5 p.m. on June 3, Reed’s statement came on June 6.

While Reed’s name must remain on the ballot (and therefore she could theoretically win), Willett reiterated that Reed has endorsed Clark.

“I think it’ll mainly be confusing [to voters], which is regrettable.”

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