DFL Congressional candidate Jim Graves is stepping away from the 6th Congressional District race, telling MinnPost that he was going to suspend his campaign indefinitely. It’s been just six weeks since Graves, who lost to Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann by just 1 percent last year, had announced his intention to get a rematch with Bachmann in 2014. But following Bachmann’s announcement earlier this week that she would not be running for reelection, Graves decided to call off his nascent campaign.
“Basically,” Graves told MinnPost, “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.’”
Graves stopped short of saying his candidacy had driven Bachmann from the race. But the announcement of his second bid had clearly drawn attention from wealthy Democratic boosters across the country, who flooded his campaign fund with $100,000 in the first week following his announcement, not to mention from Bachmann herself. Earlier this month, Bachmann’s campaign bought $80,000 worth of television ads in local markets, an extraordinary step for a Congressional incumbent in the middle of a non-election year. Last week, a poll paid for by Graves and conducted by Public Policy Polling found the Democrat two points ahead of Bachmann, leading 47 percent to 45 percent among likely 6th District voters.
In his interview with MinnPost, Graves called himself a “business guy” rather than a politician, and said he wanted to devote his time to his career. Graves founded the AmericInn hotel chain, as well as Graves Hospitality Corporation, a hotel management operation which includes the upscale Graves 601 Hotel in downtown Minneapolis.
Graves’ departure creates a vacuum on the DFL side of the election, while the Republican field is already overflowing with possible and likely candidates looking for a chance to run in the traditionally conservative district. Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hegseth and former state legislator Phil Krinkie, who lost out to Bachmann for the Republican endorsement in 2006, have all expressed interest in running for the seat, though no Republican candidate has officially declared.