‘Can Michele Bachmann be beaten?’

Chris Cillizza, who runs the poilitical blog “The Fix” for the Washington Post, put up a piece this morning asking, but not answering, the question: “Can Michele Bachmann be Beaten?”

He gives it the standard on-the-one-hand-but-on-the-other treatment.

One the one hand, Bachmann’s Sixth Congressional District is the reddest in Minnesota. Mitt Romney carried the Sixth by 57-42 percent, easily his best showing in the state.

On the other hand, hotel magnate Jim Graves came within 1 percentage point of Bachmann in a race that wasn’t called until the day after the election. And Graves was overwhelmingly outspent by Bachmann, in part because the word was out in blue-donor circles that Bachmann couldn’t be beaten.

Back to the first hand, Bachmann continues to say stuff that just ain’t so, most recently a double helping factual errors at the CPAC conference.

Back to the other hand (and here is where Cillizza has some weird fun with comic book magic), Bachmann loyalists suggest that, like the Marvel Comic villain Sebastian Shaw, she has the power to absorb energy from her foes and turn it into power for herself. The more she is criticized by liberals, the more convinced her supporters become that she must be right about everything.

We shall see what we shall. Personally, I don’t even assume that she will seek another term.

In DFL circles, it’s widely assumed that Graves is preparing for a second try in 2014. I was quite struck by a piece Graves published the other day in the Strib’s business section giving his ideas on tax reform. It was grey, laundry list of principles, lacking in specific numbers, but if you read it, it is a call for a really radical simplification of the tax code. For example, here are two of his principles:

Eliminate personal income classifications so as to treat all income equally as earned income, thus eliminating tax preference for qualified dividends, capital gains, hedge-fund carried interest, etc.

Cap the net tax credit from personal gross income deductions such as home mortgage interest, charitable contributions, health care costs, deductions for state and local income taxes.

Graves ran in 2012 largely on the argument that Bachmann had neglected the district because she is so focused on her national ambitions. That Strib piece made me think that if he runs in 2014, it will be as a reformer.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/27/2013 - 01:56 pm.

    The obvious answer is YES

    Her weaknesses are apparent.
    Her strength is her district.
    The question:
    At what point will she become enough of an embarrassment to her constituents so that they simply don’t show up, even though they support her basic political positions.
    President Obama has shown that a politician can be stronger than his political positions would warrant; Bachmann may show the converse: that she can be weaker than her political positions.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 03/27/2013 - 08:14 pm.

    The most obvious point

    is that the 6th District could — and has done, and is now doing — much worse than Jim Graves as a Congressional representative. Graves might run as a reformer, he might run as a standard-issue DFL’er, he might run as a centrist, or even veer a little bit to the right to accommodate the voters in the district. Whatever he does, I don’t see how it could be worse for the 6th District, or more embarrassing, than Mrs. Bachmann’s list of alleged accomplishments.

  3. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 03/27/2013 - 11:25 pm.

    She could have been beat last time…

    …but the sorry DFL did not give enough support to Graves. Next time, they will know better.

  4. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 03/28/2013 - 09:56 am.


    Can we coin the term ‘discomplishments’ just for her?

  5. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 03/29/2013 - 05:26 pm.

    Graves first princple is great

    Which means Wall Street and the hedge fund managers are going to hate him. Good for Graves.

    Instead of capping deductions though, it would simplify the tax code to just get rid of them.

    In defense of donors, Bachmann wasn’t the only crazy person in Congress, and at least a couple of them did get beaten.

  6. Submitted by dave luger on 04/01/2013 - 03:46 pm.

    Graves, opportunity lost but hopefully not forgotten

    Mr. Graves demonstrated last year that constructive middle ground ideas, willingness to talk across the table and implementing critical thought (such as his recent tax reform article) brought him within a hair of winning the election and may I add, on a fraction of Michele’s war chest expenditures.

    Had the DCC thrown him a nickel, it may have given him the tipping point he needed but he did on his own. He demonstrated that the people in the 6th want more than the flash and rant, they want solutions. What is particularly interesting is the continued lack of outcomes and efforts for the 6th by Michelle, you’d think after such a narrow winning for her job, she’d be out there working like crazy for them! I grew up in that district and I hope Jim runs for the people there again and helps pave the way for a new style of politics.

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