Update: Tinklenberg withdraws in 6th District, saying he doesn’t want intraparty fight against Bachmann

El Tinklenberg is already out of a race he officially entered only recently. Tinklenberg, a moderate DFLer who narrowly lost to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann last fall, announced today that he will not try again to defeat the political lightning rod of the 6th Congressional District.

“We are faced with the prospect of the next thirteen months being a battle among Democrats,” Tinklenberg said in a statement on his website. “In a difficult district during tough financial times we will be spending large amounts of time and money trying to defeat each other rather than defeating Michele Bachmann. That is not a campaign I want to wage nor is it the kind of campaign that strengthens our chances of electing a Democrat next fall.”

His withdrawal leaves a race pitting two DFL women against the incumbent congresswoman.

Dr. Maureen Reed, a DFLer who once ran as a lieutenant governor candidate on the Independence Party ticket, was the first to formally announce her candidacy to go after Bachmann. She has shown some success in fundraising.

But the look of the 6th District race, from a DFL point of view, changed significantly when state Sen. Tarryl Clark, the assistant Senate majority leader, announced recently that she was entering the race. Clark is very popular with the DFL rank and file.

Clark also was endorsed today by AFSCME Council 5, a big step toward showing she’ll also have labor support.

There also were media reports that Tinklenberg was being pressured by national Democratic Party officials to step aside. In an interview with MinnPost, however, Tinklenberg denied there was outside pressure.

In fact, he said, he believed he had a strong chance of ending up with the nomination.

“It is likely this could have ended up with a three-way race in the primary,” Tinklenberg said. “There is no way that Reed is going to win the endorsement [because of her IP candidacy with Peter Hutchinson on the gubernatorial ticket in 2006]. If there was a three-way primary [Tinklenberg, Clark and Reed], that could have split well for me.”

But over and over, he kept saying the key is bringing “sane representation” to the sixth. A costly primary would destroy chances to defeat Bachmann, he said.

Tinklenberg, former transportation commissioner in the Jesse Ventura administration, ended up with strong national support late in last year’s campaign, thanks to comments made by Bachmann in a television interview in which she questioned the patriotism of some of her congressional colleagues.

After scraping to get by throughout most of his campaign, Tinklenberg suddenly found himself awash in cash as donations flow from all over the country.

Still, in the end, Bachmann managed to pick up 48 percent of the vote, enough to defeat Tinklenberg by 3.5 per cent because an Independent candidate, Bob Anderson, received 10 percent of the votes.

Tinklenberg ended up with a surplus from the last campaign. “A bunch” of the surplus was sent to help the Democratic candidate in a special-election House race in New York. Some was still on hand. And the money never has stopped coming in, Tinklenberg said today.

“Every time she says something like, ‘I’m not filling out my entire census form or they’ll round us up and put us in internment camps,’ people send me a check.”

But, he added, Bachmann is a money-raising machine, too. Each outrageous remark seems to spark generosity from her supporters, both in the district and nationally.

“It’s a helluva advantage to be able to say anything you want and not have a consequence for it,” he said.

Tinklenberg said he has no immediate plans for the future other than to continue his involvement in public issues.

Does that mean he’ll throw his hat into the ring for the governor’s race?

“This is already quite a large haberdashery,” said the former Methodist minister, former suburban mayor and former transportation commissioner. “No, I won’t be running for governor.’’

Saying he didn’t want to sound overly “noble,” he pointed to his withdrawal statement:

“This has never been about me. It’s about restoring responsible productive representation to the Sixth District. It is my hope that by removing myself from the race, I am advancing our chances of achieving that goal.’’

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Bruce Anderson on 08/04/2009 - 05:13 pm.

    Come on Doug, your comment:

    Still, in the end, Bachmann managed to pick up 48 percent of the vote, enough to defeat Tinklenberg by 3.5 per cent because an Independent candidate, Bob Anderson, received 10 percent of the votes.

    Still perpetuating the myth that Bob cost El the election? How about El being soley responsible for his loss? You phrase that statement like it is a directly causal relationship.

    The winner is the person with the most votes, period. And to that end it does not matter how many are in the race. How about giving a little credit to the guy that EARNED 10% without ANY Washington D.C. money.

  2. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 08/05/2009 - 01:14 pm.

    Thank you, Mr. Tinklenberg for giving Dems a chance in a very conservartive district. The Independence party candidate may well sink the Democrat again, since all too many voters in the Sixth seem to find it virtually impossible to color in the circle for a candidate with a “D” by his/her name.

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