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Report: Bachmann challenger Jim Graves to decide on 2014 run this spring

WASHINGTON — Graves came withint 4,300 votes of Bachmann in 2012.

WASHINGTON — Jim Graves has said he’ll decide by April 1 if he’ll challenge  Rep. Michele Bachmann again in 2014.

Graves told the St. Cloud Times’ Mark Sommerhauser that he’s watching Bachmann’s movements closely and will decide whether to jump into the race depending on how she handles congressional debates over the debt ceiling and the federal budget.

Graves came within 4,300 votes of Bachmann in 2012, despite being vastly outspent and running in a district far too conservative to normally consider voting out a Republican. He said supporters have already asked him to consider running again next cycle.

He’d probably face tougher conditions should he run in 2014: It’s a midterm election, so turnout will be down, and members of the incumbent president’s party tend to struggle more in the off-years. Bachmann, meanwhile, has been virtually silent since the campaign, refusing interviews and focusing more on district work. But she’s still a fundraising machine, raising more than $500,000 since November. It’s early, but prognosticators say the district leans Bachmann’s way.

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Graves sounds like a man who’s all but made up his mind about running. He told the Times he’s putting together “a proposal to overhaul and streamline the federal tax code” and sharply criticized Bachmann for being so quiet since the campaign.

“We’re not seeing any leadership. We’re not seeing much going on there,” he said. “One thing I’m not going to do is play it safe if and when I get elected.”

Devin Henry can be reached at