MINNEAPOLIS - Now that both Jim Graves and Michele Bachmann have left the 2014 race, the 6th Congressional District will become even tougher territory for Democrats.
The 6th, which wraps around the top and west side of the Twin Cities has always been solid Republican ground, where GOP presidential candidates always fare well.
Most political analysts believe it became more competitive in the 2012 election cycle because of Bachmann's controversial persona, which was brought to light more often during her 2011 run for the Presidency.
"The truth is that Jim Graves' best chance was against a wounded Bachmann," Larry Jacobs of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs told KARE.
"He came within a few thousand votes of being her in 2012."
The morning that Bachmann suddenly announced she wouldn't seek reelection, Graves still seemed very interested in making the career leap from hotelier to congressman.
"I never ran against her. I ran for the people," Graves told KARE Wednesday morning.
He had been up late the night before watching the Minnesota Twins 14-inning game against the Milwaukee Brewers on TV, assuming he could sleep in for a change. His phone started ringing with media requests before 5:00 a.m.
The next day Graves apparently had a change of heart. He told reporter Eric Black of MinnPost that he was suspending his campaign for Congress. And furthermore, according to Black's MinnPost article, he would not be talking the other media about it.
"I think he then talked to some advisers, probably got some phone calls, talked to some of the folks he was expecting to get some campaign contributions from," Jacobs said.
He theorized Graves could no longer rely on national political money aimed at ousting Bachmann because she has voluntarily removed left the ballot. And the hotel executive has often said he had little interest in self-funding a campaign.
If one stares at a map of the 6th District long enough, the shape begins to resemble an insect with pincers around the Twin Cities. It it were a bug, the 6th District would have an appetite for Democratic donkeys.
Patty Wettlerling, a longtime national advocate for missing and exploited children, lost in the 6th District in 2004 against Mark Kennedy and again in 2006 to Bachmann.
Elwin Tinklenberg, a former state transportation commissioner, lost to Bachmann in the 6th District in 2008.
Former State Senator Tarryl Clark lost there in 2010, also to Bachmann.
And in 2012 Jim Graves became the latest DFL candidate to lose in the 6th District, but by a very slim margin. But in mid-term elections, such the one coming up in 2014, the party that holds the White House typically doesn't fare well.
"As soon as the Republicans lock in on a candidate that candidate will probably move ahead of Graves," Jacobs explained.
"It was probably a smart political move on his part, to skip the 17 months of pain and more campaign debt."
There's a wide field of possible Republican candidates, the most prominent of whom is former State Representative Tom Emmer of Delano.
Emmer told KARE Friday that he's still pondering a run, but won't make any announcements until he had a chance to discuss it with Bachmann herself.
Jacobs said Republican strategists on a national level would like to see a relatively unknown Republican run for the seat, someone who hasn't generated a lot of negatives.
He said they would try to duplicate what they found in Rep. Eric Paulsen, who replaced Jim Ramstad in the 3rd District and hasn't become controversial.
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