On Monday, voters in Minnesota's sixth congressional district were looking forward to a 2014 rematch of Michele Bachmann against hotel magnate Jim Graves. As of today, the match-up looks different: nobody versus nobody.
In 2012, Graves gave Bachmann the strongest challenged she'd faced in her four terms, coming only 4,300 votes short of an upset. Graves was poised to do even better this time, according to a poll released earlier this month.
When Bachmann dropped out on Wednesday citing... no reasons in particular, Graves was understandably happy. The race, it seemed, was his. A local political blog interviewed Graves, who said that his campaign wouldn't change a thing.
“At the end of the day, we’re focusing on the people that want to be informed and are interested in really finding solutions to the real problems we’ve got,” he said. “We’ve got solutions to all these if we can just sit down and talk and work it out.”
Graves summarized his decision: "There’s no way anyone could run and win who would be worse than Michele Bachmann. So we accomplished that task." But the reporter notes that a campaign against a non-controversial Republican could have been harder for Graves to win.
I asked Graves whether his decision was shaped by the emerging conventional wisdom that, while he had a fair shot at defeating Bachmann, he stood little chance against a less radical, divisive, fact-challenged Republican, because the 6th District has such a strong Republican lean. He didn’t exactly say yes or no. He emphasized that Amy Klobuchar has done very well in the district in both of her Senate races. She is a Democrat, but she offers a constructive approach.
All of which sets the stage for a surprise move: Bachmann jumping back into the race and running uncontested. It's a risky strategy, but, given those recent polls, it may just be her best bet to actually win. You heard it here first.