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With Bachmann not running, Jim Graves pulls out of 6th District race

Jim Graves
MinnPost photo by Jana FreibandJim Graves

As of today, Jim Graves is going to indefinitely suspend his campaign for Congress from the 6th District.

Translation: He is not running. He is dropping out of politics to concentrate on his family and his business.

Later this morning he will circulate a press release to this effect. But he says he will not take questions about it today, nor is he particularly interested in hearing from various Democrats who might want to talk him into changing his mind. In fact, his plan is to give no interviews for a month so the spotlight can shift to others who want to enter the race from which he is withdrawing.

Except one interview. Graves kindly reached out to me Thursday night to offer a brief interview and agreed that MinnPost could break the story this morning, a short time before his official statement is released. Here is what he told me:

‘Mission Accomplished’

“Basically, after all that’s gone on, and with Michele Bachmann now stepping down, I’ve been talking to my friends and family and frankly, the feeling is, ‘Mission Accomplished.’ She wasn’t representing the people of the 6th District appropriately, and now she won’t be representing them. There’s no way anyone could run and win who would be worse than Michele Bachmann. So we accomplished that task.”

I asked Graves if he was claiming credit for ending Bachmann’s political career, but he demurred. “I don’t know everything that went into her decision,” he said. “Clearly, it was going to be a competitive race. All through Memorial Day weekend, she was in the district, working the crowds. Obviously something happened to cause her to believe that she shouldn’t run again. We’re very happy she dropped out. The country can do better.”

As for his own future, he declined to make an absolute Shermanesque commitment never to run for office again, but he has no such plans.

“I’m not a politician; I’m a business guy,” he said. “Now there are zero things on my agenda that I feel a need to do in public life.”

Opposite of Bachmann’s approach

Graves said he entered his brief political fling hoping to emphasize three or four qualities and ideas that he felt were the opposite of Bachmann’s approach. Bachmann demonizes those with whom she disagrees. He believes in civility. Bachmann constantly misstates the facts. He believes in being careful and rigorous about the factual basis for the positions he advocates. Bachmann thrives on gridlock, believing that preventing the Democrats from accomplishing anything is goal enough. He believes in trying to find solutions to problems, even if you have to compromise with those advocating different solutions in order to make progress.

Rep. Michele Bachmann
REUTERS/Mario AnzuoniRep. Michele Bachmann

“I don’t think compromise is a dirty word,” Graves said. “It’s a great approach. You can never get a perfect deal.”

I asked Graves whether his decision was shaped by the emerging conventional wisdom that, while he had a fair shot at defeating Bachmann, he stood little chance against a less radical, divisive, fact-challenged Republican, because the 6th District has such a strong Republican lean. He didn’t exactly say yes or no. He emphasized that Amy Klobuchar has done very well in the district in both of her Senate races. She is a Democrat, but she offers a constructive approach.

He acknowledged that the national media, the national Democratic Party and the national liberal-donor base are going to be a lot less interested in who represents the 6th District of Minnesota now that Bachmann has removed herself. He said that the attention and support he received from far and wide was not about him.  “I was just the guy who was running against her,” he said. “I’m humble enough to realize that.”

And now he isn’t running against her or anyone else. He is looking forward to life out of the limelight.

Comments (21)

  1. Submitted by Beth-Ann Bloom on 05/31/2013 - 09:46 am.


    Jim Graves is amazing-a strategic thinker who can see beyond his ego!

  2. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 05/31/2013 - 09:56 am.

    Too bad, but…

    I have to say that I liked Mr. Graves’ approach and ideas. I would have liked to help his campaign and have the opportunity to vote for him. However, I completely understand his approach. He felt that he could do a better job when the job was being done poorly and so he stepped up to the plate. Now that the field is open, it’s better to see what the field will look like before he can say he can do a better job. And if there’s a decent substitute, why make it harder for a qualified person to do the job? Unfortunately, it would seem that those who want to do the right thing actually do the right thing, leaving the politicians to politics. Bah! Ah well. My best regards, Mr. Graves.

  3. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/31/2013 - 09:57 am.

    Can’t say it surprises me.

    Although I am a little disappointed. I think Graves had a shot, and his presence may have moderated the selection of the republican candidate. Now the republicans can run anyone they want and keep the seat. I can see if Graves was going to self finance but it looked the party was going to put a lot of money into this race. I wonder if they’ll still finance a different candidate?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/31/2013 - 01:34 pm.

      Graves still had a shot, but it was a long one.

      Bachmann ran way behind her party in the last election; a generic Republican candidate would be a 5 point favorite. Graves made a rational decision.
      As to the DFL and the DNCC putting money into the race, that will depend on who the candidates are. They won’t pour money into a race where they don’t have a real chance of winning; there are better ways to allocate finite resources.

  4. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 05/31/2013 - 09:57 am.

    Head spinning

    Yesterday you asked “Could a Democrat ever win in Bachmann’s GOP-leaning district?”

    Did we get our answer today?

  5. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/31/2013 - 10:18 am.

    It all depends on who is running from the Republicans. There are a couple of potential candidates that, when speaking, provoke the same reaction as scratching a nail on a chalkboard.

  6. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 05/31/2013 - 10:20 am.


    It’s somewhat surprising to me at least that Graves is dropping out. It has been sort of an axiom among DFLer’s that Michele Bachmann was the only Republican capable of losing the sixth district seat. As of Bachmann’s announcement, Graves’ candidacy became officially hopeless, but I would have expected him to at least continue as a placeholder. With Bachmann gone, DFL efforts will shift to Kline’s and to a lesser extent, Paulsen’s districts.

  7. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/31/2013 - 10:21 am.

    If the national DFL hadn’t ignored his effort last time…

    …perhaps he would have prevailed and he would be the incumbent now. It makes you wonder if, in that case, he would be resigning now, with the same “Mission Accomplished”. It seems to me the national DFL looks at this District and thinks there are better places to spend their money.

  8. Submitted by Richard Pecar on 05/31/2013 - 10:41 am.


    I had been perched above the keyboard ready to click the “Donate Now” button for candidate Graves…zoot…he’s gone.

    Now I am being asked to believe his candidacy was really a strategic effort and not a real candidacy. Hmmm…

    I speculate here, but it smells to me like somebody got something on the man and he bolted rather than take the heat.

    Of this much I am sure…I am glad he bolted before I sent a donation.

  9. Submitted by Karen Rylander on 05/31/2013 - 11:18 am.


    I am very disappointed that Jim Graves decided to drop out of the race, but I understand it too (I can’t imagine running a political race myself). I went to a number of fund raisers and heard Jim speak, and I believe that his politics are very close to my own. I also think this decision is premature as we could end up with Bachmann Jr representing MN – arghhh. (Look who the dems put up against her in the past, left-leaners with zero chance of winning.)

    It is so difficult to find a moderate candidate, I often have to hold my nose to vote for anyone. I think a lot of people feel this way. Yet the parties keep nominating extremist after extremist, which only gets worse now that the tea party exists.

    I have started supporting NextMinnesota because they support candidates of either party who are centrist. Check them out at if you find yourself in my position. Tom Horner, once independent candidate for governor, makes many of the posts.

  10. Submitted by jody rooney on 05/31/2013 - 11:30 am.

    Well I do understand his position

    Who wants to spend time in Legislative bodies that act like a room full of three year-olds.

    I am disappointed. But consider him a very rational individual just the kind I would have like to have voted for again. It would have been nice to have a positive choice for a change.

    I hope the democrats find a good moderate person but I strongly suspect it is unlikely. Again we will be faced with the lesser of two evils.

  11. Submitted by Nancy LaRoche on 05/31/2013 - 11:32 am.

    I Quit – Mission Accomplished!

    Jim Graves was not ready for prime-time. It will be interesting to see who runs (and gets endorsed) from all parties. Will Tarryl Clark return to the 6th?

    • Submitted by William Gleason on 05/31/2013 - 12:07 pm.

      Mr. Graves is more than ready for prime time, Ms. Laroche

      After all he came withing a percent of beating Ms. Bachmann in the last election with a fraction of her funding.

      And what does Tarryl Clark have to do with this, pray tell?

      Perhaps you should identify the official party office you hold, so folks could judge your comments accordingly?

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/31/2013 - 07:04 pm.

        You mean

      • Submitted by Tom Anderson on 06/03/2013 - 10:36 pm.

        Many people get elected that are not ready for primetime

        And many are not ready to do the job that they coveted so much, but they do learn in time.

        How can anyone not see how Tarryl Clark fits into this? She ran for the seat before! She then moved to a different district to run against a weaker candidate. It certainly would not be an odd choice to move back into the district with her family (who remained there I believe). Her odds of success would be poor since she has failed in her past attempts, but her name certainly cannot be considered unfamiliar to 6th district residents

  12. Submitted by jody rooney on 05/31/2013 - 11:32 am.

    By the way …

    Despite my disappointment in Mr. Graves not running..

    Thank you for mission accomplished.

  13. Submitted by Jeffrey Peterson on 05/31/2013 - 12:44 pm.

    Jim Graves

    Mission accomplished? So we are led to believe the Graves’ candidacy was not for what he could do as much as a counter to Michele Bachmann. If that is in fact the case I am gratified to know sooner rather than later. I was teased with the thought he may have brought a more independent perspective to Congress, which he had alluded to, as the basis for getting something done. Maybe he might have been successful in taking that mindset to getting elected and then to governing. But if his prime objective was seeing Bachmann move on- and that wasn’t clear until today- the Sixth district will be better served by any number of other candidates, regardless of party, who can offer something more substantive.

  14. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 05/31/2013 - 01:34 pm.

    I’m stunned. .

    It’s been, what, seven months since the election and we don’t know who will be running for the Sixth District Congressional seat? What is this world coming to?

    Mr. Graves obviously does have some good sense.

  15. Submitted by Ray Lewis on 05/31/2013 - 01:55 pm.

    Politics as usual… or an opportunity

    An open seat could an opportunity for a rational discussion on the problems that face the sixth district and the best way to address the future. We have had enough divisiveness and gridlock, so perhaps this is a chance to put the real issues on the table, i.e. economy, jobs, education, health, demographic changes, environment, (insert your issue here) and get beyond the bumper sticker slogans.

    Political advertising funneled through “free speech” won’t completely determine the outcome in Nov. 2014, but talking to family, neighbors and community may help shape the approaches that are on the table. No one has all the answers, but in a representative democracy, at least we all get a chance to shape our future.

    In my opinion, partisan politics has been the problem, not the solution. Can we use this political re-set to get citizens involved and set a model for the rest of the country?

  16. Submitted by John Johnson on 05/31/2013 - 06:40 pm.


    Does he think his performance in 2012 was an aberration?

  17. Submitted by Joe Musich on 06/03/2013 - 11:04 am.

    i will miss the position on ssi repair…

    that Mr Graves spoke to, ie raise the income level contribution.

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