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Bachmann challenger Graves hits the airwaves

Jim Graves is up with two spots in his bid to unseat Michele Bachmann

WASHINGTON — Michele Bachmann’s Democratic opponent Jim Graves is up with his first two television ads of the campaign.

The first is a biographical ad highlighting his personal background and business experience. The second spot takes aim at Bachmann, featuring employees of the now shuttered Verso paper mill in Sartell who say the congresswoman didn’t reach out to them after the May fire that closed the plant.

Bachmann met with executives from the company in August, after Verso announced it would close the plant. At the time, she said she “understood” the decision and “will also continue to work with Governor Dayton, Sartell Mayor Perske, and other local elected officials to make sure government is a help and not a hindrance to making sure new businesses start and thrive in Sartell.”

The Graves campaign said the ads will run on network television in the Twin Cities through the end of the month. Campaign manager Adam Graves said the buy is worth between $100,000 and $200,000.

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Democratic polling shows a tight race in the traditionally-conservative 6th. Bachmann has yet to hit the airwaves, but she has a massive fundraising advantage over Graves.

Update: Bachmann’s campaign has responded, calling Graves’ Sartell ad, “dishonest and irresponsible.”

The campaign said her office was on the scene within hours of the fire, and that Bachmann met with city officials and community leaders afterwards. Her office coordinated with a Sartell task force set up to deal with the ramifications of the fire, according to the campaign, and she sent a letter to residents, “encouraging them, and providing her contact information to anyone who may need help following the explosion.”

“For Jim Graves to politicize this tragic disaster with dishonest, false, irresponsible claims is reprehensible,” the campaign said in a statement. “We can’t trust Jim Graves to keep his promises. We certainly can’t trust Jim Graves to accurately portray the needs of the people in this district.”

Devin Henry can be reached at