By Don Davis
Eight is enough.
That is the message tea party darling and Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota delivered Wednesday when she announced that she will not seek re-election next year, leaving the U.S. House after eight years. In a video message, she gave no hint about her future, but said she could have won re-election.
After the video appeared, Bachmann was unavailable for questions because she was en route to Russia to join other members of Congress looking into potential Russian connections to the Boston Marathon bombing.
“My good friends, after a great deal of thought and deliberation, I have decided next year I will not seek a fifth congressional term to represent the wonderful people of the 6th District of Minnesota,” she began her video. “After serious consideration, I am confident that this is the right decision.”
The surprise announcement set off a flurry of activity as Republicans searched for a Bachmann replacement. More than 15 names immediately surfaced as potential candidates.
Among the best-known contenders is state Rep. Matt Dean of Dellwood, a former House majority leader. Also mentioned was state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer of Big Lake, who served eight years as Minnesota secretary of state.
Another saying he is looking into the race is former state Rep. Phil Krinkie, who has run in the district before. Also thinking about running is former state Rep. Tom Emmer, the GOP’s 2010 candidate for governor.
It is the state’s most Republican district, although wealthy hotelier Democratic Jim Graves came within a few thousand votes of upsetting Bachmann last year. He is running again in 2014.
Democrats seemed happy to be rid of Bachmann, although they have raised millions of dollars just by mentioning her name.
“Minnesota’s long national embarrassment is coming to an end,” Chairman Ken Martin of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party said. “When you think of some of the national leaders we have sent to Washington, D.C., from Minnesota — people like Hubert Humphrey, Walter Mondale, Gene McCarthy, Orville Freeman and others — it was such a tragedy that our state was represented by someone like Michelle Bachmann, who was so out of the mainstream of even her conservative-leaning district.”
The 57-year-old congresswoman, who serves a district north and northwest of the Twin Cities, apparently told few people of her decision. It came just a couple of weeks after she ran a television commercial, seemingly cementing her re-election plans.
The announcement follows weeks of controversy about her aborted presidential campaign in Iowa, her native state. Her campaign is accused of improperly paying an Iowa state senator and other irregularities.
“And rest assured,” she said, “this decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign, or my former presidential staff.”
Bachmann launched her presidential campaign in 2011, but after some early successes dropped out after finishing far behind front-runners in the Iowa caucus.
For years, some have speculated that Bachmann would challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken next year. But polls have shown Franken with a solid lead over Bachmann.
On the day Bachmann dropped out, Twin Cities businessman Mike McFadden said he would run against Franken, the first major GOP candidate for the office.
During a Capitol news conference, called with less than an hour’s notice, the 48-year-old business consultant could give no specifics about what he would do if elected, but promised to investigate education and jobs issues.
“I think I understand the economy and what drives it,” he said, because his business advises firms with financial problems and helps them recover.
Even before the announcement, Democrats said that businesses he has worked with have cut jobs. He said that sometimes is needed to avoid bankruptcy.
McFadden joked that on a day Bachmann ended her political career, he started his.
However, Bachmann gave no evidence she is leaving politics. Most of her video dealt with issues, not her decision to leave the House.
The conservative congresswoman said her future “is limitless” and that there is no option “that I will not be giving serious consideration.”
“I will continue to fight for public policy that is first and foremost in the best interests of the citizens,” she said.
See Bachmann’s video: tinyurl.com/MBNotRun