Well, this is interesting:
Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann, a conservative Republican who ran for president last year, made a surprise announcement Wednesday and said she will not seek re-election to a fifth term in Congress.
The Minnesota congresswoman was facing inquiries into her presidential campaign and a potential rematch with Democrat Jim Graves, a wealthy hotel executive who came within about 4,300 votes of defeating her in November.
“My decision was not influenced by any concerns about my being re-elected,” Bachmann said.
Bachmann added, “This decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign.” In January, a former Bachmann aide filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, claiming Bachmann 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.
Color me a bit skeptical regarding those denials: a Tea Party conservative running in purple Minnesota was always going to have a hard time, and maybe she saw that the allegations against her would give her opponent, who ran a strong race last time, enough of a club (1) to beat her next time. Not running will almost surely hand the seat to the Democrats, however.
Steve Greene wonders if she’s clearing the decks for a Senate run. I have my doubts (statewide would be even harder for her than winning her district), but, if she does, there’s no doubt she’ll make it interesting.
Bachmann’s political career trumped her legislative career. While she became a heroine to many Tea Party activists, raising more money than almost any other member of the House of Representatives during her last election cycle, she held little sway in Washington beyond a tiny cohort of friends and allies and she passed no significant legislation during her time in Washington. Most Tea Party conservatives are closer to Jordan, or the leadership structure of the Republican Study Committee.
And while Bachmann remained the poster child for the Tea Party label, especially to liberal media outlets in search of a boogeyman, other more conservative members have risen to greater prominence, in both the House and Senate.
Her political troubles made her one of the few members of Congress who would be more difficult for her party to defend than an open seat would be. That is, Republicans would rather run a fresh candidate without Bachmann’s baggage than try to defend her suburban Twin Cities district. In 2012, Mitt Romney took 56.5 percent of the vote in Bachmann’s district; Bachmann eked out a win over Democrat Jim Graves by just 1.2 percentage points, or about 4,300 votes.
Bachmann may have been the loudest member of the class of 2006, the one who inspired the most heated arguments. But she will hardly be the most consequential; her enduring legacy may be the lessons she taught in how to lose friends and become completely uninfluential.
With her exit, Democrats lose a potent fundraising tool. Republicans lose a headache they would just as soon do without.
Power Line is more charitable toward her.
(1) Not to mention her bizarre assertions about Gardasil. That caused me to seriously reconsider her candidacy in 2012, and not in a good way.
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)