by T.W. Budig
ECM Capitol reporter
The 6th Congressional District race is wide open.
Democrat congressional candidate Jim Graves has announced his withdrawal from the race, a decision close on the heels of Republican 6th District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s announcement that she would not seek a fifth term.
Democratic leaders expressed disappointment that hotelier Graves, who came within about 4,200 votes of defeating Bachmann in 2012, is quitting the race.
“While I am disappointed that Jim Graves has dropped out of the race for Congress, he ran a good campaign in 2012 and has laid the groundwork for another DFL candidate in 2014,” State DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin said in a press release.
“Although it’s a conservative district, with the right candidate, this is a great opportunity for Democrats,” Martin said in part.
Local 6th District Republicans immediately spoke of Bachmann’s departure from the race as hurting Graves’ campaign. Without the celebrity Republican, campaign contributions Graves otherwise might have counted on would dry up, one Republican speculated.
Democratic 6th Congressional District Chairman Bill Usher said it was a concern Bachmann might drop out. They had an “excellent opportunity” to defeat Bachmann, he said. But with congresswoman gone, it makes it more difficult for Democrats.
“I still think he would have had an excellent chance (of winning in 2014),” Usher said of Graves remaining in the race.
Because Graves’ withdrawal was a surprise, DFL district officials had not been searching for other candidates, Usher said.
There are not a lot of DFL officeholders in the district, Usher said. So he suspects a candidate could come from the business community.
“There’s plenty of time,” Usher said of finding a new candidate.
The Democratic 6th District Congressional Endorsement Convention is next March.
Graves announced his 2014 candidacy in April of this year.
“These days, Congress is all about scoring political points rather than actually solving problems and Minnesota’s 6th District – my home – is losing out because of that more than anywhere. I’m not interested in celebrity, only in solutions,” said Graves in a press release at the time.
Reportedly, Graves believes, with Bachmann dropping out of the race, the purpose of his candidacy has been fulfilled.
Tim Budig can be reached at [email protected].