MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann is headed back to Washington, but the tea-party favorite's toughest race yet suggests a new vulnerability in the wake of her failed presidential run.
Bachmann barely won a fourth term despite vastly outspending an upstart Democrat running his first race. She turned out to be less popular with her constituents than GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney or even a gay marriage ban she championed.
Bachmann seemed to acknowledge as much Wednesday, promising a "laser-like" focus on her job.
"In my next term, I'll continue to work every day to create jobs for the people in my district and for the people in our nation, while doing everything I can to be an unwavering voice in Washington for our constitutional conservative values," Bachmann said in a statement.
She didn't respond to interview requests.
Bachmann beat wealthy but politically inexperienced hotelier Jim Graves by barely 4,200 votes, or a little over a percentage point, in the 6th District, which sprawls north and west from Minneapolis suburbs toward St. Cloud.
Before she got to Congress, Bachmann made a name for herself in the state Senate for her early efforts to write a gay-marriage ban into the state constitution. But she drew nearly 17,000 fewer votes in her district Tuesday than the proposed amendment banning gay marriage. And she drew nearly 27,000 fewer votes in the 6th than Mitt Romney, who carried the district with 56 percent of the vote.
Graves stressed his business experience and his record of job creation. During the campaign, he accused Bachmann of being more concerned about advancing her national political aspirations than serving the district.
Bachmann failed to capitalize on a substantial fundraising advantage over Graves. She also may have been hurt by provocative statements over the summer when she linked a top aide to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to the Muslim Brotherhood and suggested Islamic fundamentalists were infiltrating high levels of the government. Even some in her own party criticized her.