Minnesota Sixth District Rep. Michele Bachmann has announced that she will not seek reelection in 2014. The Star Tribune, which has breathlessly promoted her opponents and provided whatever negative publicity it could about her, has posted the video of Michele’s announcement along with a brief post. The New York Times covers her announcement here and the Washington Post covers it here.
Michele turned herself into a national figure, first as a sort of congressional Tea Party leader in 2010 and then as a GOP candidate for president in 2012. Investigations deriving from her presidential campaign continue to dog her. They don’t show any signs of being resolved soon.
Winning reelection in 2014 with those investigations as a backdrop would have been difficult. Calling it quits at this point makes perfect sense. As a national figure of many talents, I should think she will have a wealth opportunities to choose from in pursuing opportunities beyond her congressional career.
I first saw Michele in action as a candidate for the Minnesota state senate in mid-2000, speaking to a group of Twin Cities Republican women. She had just knocked off an incumbent Republican squish for the nomination and was working like a dog to win the race. Watching her compelling presentation to the Republican women’s group, I thought I had never seen anyone quite like her. She was smart. She was beautiful. She was conservative. She was ebullient. She had a great personal story. She was a proud mother of five kids and had served as a foster mother of twenty-three more. She was, in other words, someone liberals could really hate.
As a minority member of the state senate she quickly established herself as a culture warrior and a bête noire of Minnesota liberals, including the bunch over at the Star Tribune. They hate her with the special fury that liberals reserve for beautiful conservative women, but it doesn’t seem to bother her.
Michele won the GOP nomination to run for the open Sixth District seat in 2006, winning election in the incredibly difficult environment of that year. I don’t think she has ever had an easy race, but her 2012 campaign proved especially difficult after her presidential campaign. She ran against a well funded Democratic opponent (Jim Graves) and escaped with an unexpectedly narrow victory. Graves has announced that he is taking another run at the seat, and the race against him did not promise to be much easier for Michele this time around.
The month after Michele was elected to Congress in 2006, our small local chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition held what turned out to be the first of several events in her honor. She was easily our chapter’s favorite speaker. In her remarks that night, Michele spoke of her love for Israel and her desire to encourage unambiguous American support for Israel in Congress. Michele stated that she had always loved Israel, recalling that she had traveled to Israel to live on a kibbutz after graduating from high school in 1974, less than a year after the 1973 war. She saw clearly where Israel stood in its difficult neighborhood. We felt a special bond with her.
The Sixth District is a conservative district, but it now presents a target of opportunity for Democrats. They won’t have Michele to kick around, but they will have oodles of cash in the bank to fund Graves and the Star Tribune in their corner to provide public relations for him. We will need a strong candidate and a good campaign to help to keep the seat in Republican hands.
UPDATE: Gary Gross reports on one possible GOP candidate for the Sixth District nomination.
JOHN adds: This announcement didn’t come as a shock, as Michele has hinted to me that she had tired of the endless campaign/fundraising cycle and wasn’t sure she wanted to run another race. I take her at her word that her retirement wasn’t motivated by a concern that she may lose this time. Michele has never lost a race, and her 2014 opponent would have been the same guy she beat in 2012. 2014 should be a much more favorable environment for Republicans than 2012 was. In fact, I expect Republicans to do very well next year, especially in the House. So I think she would have won, but wants to spend her time doing something other than campaigning and fundraising.
Will the GOP hold her seat? I think so. The 6th is a good Republican district. At this point, though, I have no idea who our candidate will be.