Why Michele Bachmann's Democratic challenger quit, too

Businessman Jim Graves is following his bete noire into political retirement

Jim Graves
(Image credit: Facebook.com/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/JimGravesforCongress" target="_blank">JimGravesforCongress</a>)

Jim Graves nearly unseated Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) when he challenged her in the 2012 election, and the Democratic underdog was determined to try again next year. But now that Bachmann has announced she won't run for a fifth term after all, Graves — a St. Cloud hotelier — is dropping out, too. Why did he change his mind?

Graves says he was only in it to get rid of Bachmann, who is a favorite target of Democrats nationwide. Once she was out, there was no reason for him to stay in. Here's how he put it to MinnPost:

Basically, after all that's gone on, and with Michele Bachmann now stepping down, I've been talking to my friends and family and frankly, the feeling is, "Mission Accomplished." She wasn't representing the people of the 6th District appropriately, and now she won't be representing them. There's no way anyone could run and win who would be worse than Michele Bachmann. So we accomplished that task...

I'm not a politician; I'm a business guy. Now there are zero things on my agenda that I feel a need to do in public life. [MinnPost]

Predictably, not everyone is buying that explanation. Moe Lane notes at his blog that Bachmann's district is deep red, and that Graves knew he had no chance against any Republican less controversial than his former Tea Party foil.

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Absent Ms. Bachmann from the campaign environment the chances of Jim Graves of getting significant outside support for his doomed candidacy would have been somewhere between zip and nil... Brutal truth of it is, a R+8 district is not within reach of the average Democrat this cycle. [Moe Lane]

Graves did acknowledge that he faced tougher odds against somebody other than Bachmann, who has a habit of making explosive comments that appeal to the conservative fringe but embarrass moderate Republicans. Mitt Romney won her district by a far more comfortable margin than she did. "I was just the guy who was running against her," Graves tells MinnPost. "I'm humble enough to realize that."

One thing is clear: The seat will most likely not be switching hands. Graves was "arguably the strongest and most well-financed candidate Minnesota Democrats had," says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway, meaning Democrats' chances of winning just got a lot lower.

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.