ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a tea party favorite, announced Wednesday she will not run for another term in the U.S. House, saying her decision had nothing to do with ongoing investigations over finances related to her unsuccessful run for the Republican presidential nomination.
Bachmann, in a video posted on her website, also said her decision “was not influenced by any concerns about my being re-elected.”
The polarizing conservative narrowly won a fourth term last year in her suburban Minneapolis district over Democrat Jim Graves, a hotel chain founder who is running again in 2014. A spokesman said Bachmann wouldn't be available for interviews, but her former chief of staff said he suspects she was anticipating a tough battle ahead and seemed to be stuck in place in Congress.
“This is a great chance to exit stage right rather than have a knockdown, drag-out re-election fight,” said Ron Carey, also an ex-state GOP chairman. “The reality also set in that she is not a favorite of Republican leadership, so she is not going to be rising up to a committee chair or rising up in leadership.”
In her video, Bachmann also said her decision “was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign” last year. In January, a former Bachmann aide filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, claiming the candidate made improper payments to an Iowa state senator who was the state chairman of her 2012 presidential run. The aide, Peter Waldron, also accused Bachmann of other FEC violations.
Bachmann had given few clues she was considering leaving Congress. Her fundraising operation was churning out the regular pitches for the small-dollar donations that Bachmann collected so well over the years, and she had an ad running on Twin Cities television talking about her role in opposing President Barack Obama's health law. The early timing of the ad suggested she was preparing for a tough fight against Graves.
Without the polarizing Bachmann on the ticket, Republicans could have an easier time holding a district that leans more heavily in the GOP direction than any other in Minnesota. A parade of hopefuls was expected. By Wednesday morning, state Rep. Matt Dean, a former House majority leader, said he was inclined to run.
“It is something I have thought about in the past if Michele were to not run again,” Dean told The Associated Press. “It's not something that I just started thinking about this morning.”
Graves said he thought Bachmann had “read the tea leaves.”
“The district is changing,” the Democrat said in an interview Wednesday with KARE-TV in Minneapolis. “They want somebody who really does have some business background and understands the economy and can get things done in Washington and back in the district.”
Andy Aplikowski, who has long been active in the district's Republican Party chapter, said he expected Bachmann to run again but can understand why she didn't.
“It's a grueling thing to be in Congress. It's a grueling thing to be Michele Bachmann in Congress,” he said. “Every move you make is criticized and put under a microscope.”
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A sampling of provocative Bachmann statementsA sampling of memorable statements made by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who announced Wednesday she wouldn't seek a fifth term in Congress:
BACHMANN V. OBAMA: Bachmann was a little-known Minnesota congresswoman in 2008, when she said in an interview on MSNBC that she was concerned President Barack Obama “may have anti-American views.” Bachmann said it was based on the president's past association with 1960s radical Bill Ayers. The remark sparked an outpouring of voter and financial support for her Democratic rival, but Bachmann held on to win a second term.
BACHMANN AND SCIENCE: Bachmann attacked Texas Gov. Rick Perry during a GOP presidential debate for requiring middle-school girls in his state to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, or HPV. She then went on television to say a woman had approached her to attribute her daughter's mental retardation to the HPV vaccine called Gardasil. Doctors and immunization advocates sharply criticized Bachmann's comments as irresponsible and dangerous, and two bioethicists offered cash rewards if Bachmann could prove a link. She never responded.
BACHMANN ON FOREIGN POLICY: During a 2011 debate by GOP president hopefuls, Bachmann, a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said she would support the United States shutting down its embassy in Tehran. But there is no U.S. Embassy in Iran's capital.
BACHMANN ON HISTORY: Before declaring her presidential bid, Bachmann got off on the wrong foot in New Hampshire in March 2011 by describing the key early battleground state as the one “where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” The first shots in the Revolutionary War were fired in Massachusetts, not New Hampshire.
BACHMANN ON HISTORY, PART 2: During another appearance in New Hampshire a few months later, Bachmann warned that the tax burden for future generations was growing and compared it to the Holocaust. “We are seeing eclipsed in front of our eyes a similar death and a similar taking away,” she said.
BACHMANN AND SECURITY: Last year, Bachmann was sharply criticized by her own party after she repeated allegations that an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodhman Clinton had family ties to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Bachmann said Huma Abedin should have been disqualified from a U.S. security clearance, citing foreign media reports and an outside study. Sen. John McCain made a speech on the Senate floor to defend Abedin.