Jim Graves represents best choice for change in Sixth District

There’s something definitely different waiting for Sixth District voters when they enter polling places Nov. 6.

This election cycle, there’s no independent candidate on the ballot with the potential to skew the final result.

That’s one of the challenges facing Rep. Michele Bachmann, three-term incumbent, as she squares off against Jim Graves, an independently wealthy businessman who’s casting himself as an alternative, pro-business candidate.

During an endorsement interview with five editors from ECM Publishers and the Sun Newspaper Group, Bachmann quickly addressed that consideration in her introduction.

Rep. Bachmann presented herself as a strong and independent advocate for the Sixth District. While panel members agreed improving the economy, generating jobs and health care were her top legislative priorities and were impressed with her overall drive and determination, we believe it’s time for a change in one of the state’s critical districts.

After spending an hour interviewing Bachmann and Graves, it’s our view that Graves’ highly focused business and economic acumen would better serve the district during a time when innovative approaches to job creation are needed.

Why should Sixth District voters trust a self-made millionaire? Well, in 1976, Graves launched a small business from his basement with only $2,000 in the bank. By 1979, he founded AmericInn, growing the hotel franchise into the Graves Hospitality Corp. The Graves 601 Hotel in Minneapolis is known worldwide for its service and attention to detail.

It’s our view Bachmann’s political posturing and failed presidential run have changed many voters’ perceptions of her. She’s also drawn sharp GOP rebukes on Capitol Hill for a distasteful witch-hunt against Muslims in the U.S. government.

Nevertheless, Rep. Bachmann deserves credit for punching through legislation to secure funding for the St. Croix River crossing near Stillwater, a new veterans’ clinic in Ramsey and funding that will help the St. Cloud Airport.

Bachmann called the bridge funding a “remarkable signature achievement” during her endorsement interview.

And in a refreshing change of pace, she also credited U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Al Franken and Gov. Mark Dayton for their bi-partisan support in getting the long-awaited $690 million bridge project off the drawing board.

However, being able to compromise at a higher level has been a problem for Bachmann throughout her third term. If re-elected, she will foster a continued period of gridlock.

Bachmann’s solution for the lethargic economy is repealing the Affordable Health Care Act and making changes to the Dodd-Frank financial regulation overhaul that she says is making it difficult for small community banks to do business. She also fears Bush-era tax cuts won’t be extended, driving up taxes paid by families in the district.

Bachmann said the Affordable Health Care Act should be scrapped. She wants legislators to start from scratch.

Graves wants to change medical care from a procedures-based model to outcome-based, making the system more transparent while focusing on preventative care. Bachmann, in typical fashion, has drawn a non-negotiable line.

Additionally, we’re not convinced Rep. Bachmann has finished her quest for a higher political calling.

Her Tea Party ties are stronger than ever, she remains a regular on the national conservative talk-show circuit and she still has a reputation for inflammatory, divisive rhetoric. Rep. Bachmann’s political passion is admirable and her ability to connect with constituents is impressive, but more often than not, she emphasizes self-propulsion in a narrow political arena rather than bipartisan solutions.

It’s our view Graves represents a new kind of candidate who can move the Sixth District forward. He’s a bipartisan moderate who understands the economic system’s finer points and has worked those points to continued success throughout a long business career.

We believe Graves can help improve the district’s troubled economy. We’re confident he can get future constituents engaged in discussions that will return people to work.

Graves is a proven business leader who believes in free markets; he comes from Republican roots. Graves represents the perfect fit for a new Sixth District, and is prepared to serve a conservative constituency.

–This editorial is a product of the ECM Editorial Board