ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a tea party favorite, announced Wednesday she will not run for another term in the U.S. House, saying her decision had nothing to do with ongoing investigations over finances related to her unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination.
Bachmann, in a video posted on her website, also said her decision “was not influenced by any concerns about my being re-elected.”
The polarizing conservative narrowly won a fourth term last year in her suburban Minneapolis district over Democrat Jim Graves, a hotel chain founder who is running again in 2014. A spokesman said Bachmann wouldn’t be available for interviews, but her former chief of staff said he suspects she was anticipating a tough battle ahead and seemed to be stuck in place in Congress.
“This is a great chance to exit stage right rather than have a knockdown, drag-out re-election fight,” said Ron Carey, also an ex-state GOP chairman. “The reality also set in that she is not a favorite of Republican leadership, so she is not going to be rising up to a committee chair or rising up in leadership.”
In her video, Bachmann also said her decision “was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign” last year. In January, a former Bachmann aide filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, claiming the candidate made improper payments to an Iowa state senator who was the state chairman of her 2012 presidential run. The aide, Peter Waldron, also accused Bachmann of other FEC violations.
Bachmann had given few clues she was considering leaving Congress. Her fundraising operation was churning out the regular pitches for the small-dollar donations that Bachmann collected so well over the years, and she had an ad running on Twin Cities television talking about her role in opposing President Barack Obama’s health law. The early timing of the ad suggested she was preparing for a tough fight against Graves.
Without the polarizing Bachmann on the ticket, Republicans could have an easier time holding a district that leans more heavily in the GOP direction than any other in Minnesota. A parade of hopefuls was expected. By Wednesday morning, state Rep. Matt Dean, a former House majority leader, said he was inclined to run.
“It is something I have thought about in the past if Michele were to not run again,” Dean told The Associated Press. “It’s not something that I just started thinking about this morning.”
Graves said he thought Bachmann had “read the tea leaves.”
“The district is changing,” the Democrat said in an interview Wednesday with KARE-TV in Minneapolis. “They want somebody who really does have some business background and understands the economy and can get things done in Washington and back in the district.”
Andy Aplikowski, who has long been active in the district’s Republican Party chapter, said he expected Bachmann to run again but can understand why she didn’t.
“It’s a grueling thing to be in Congress. It’s a grueling thing to be Michele Bachmann in Congress,” he said. “Every move you make is criticized and put under a microscope.”