WASHINGTON–Jim Graves, the man who was running against Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th District until she announced her surprise retirement, has suspended his campaign, effectively pulling out of the race now that he won’t have to face off against her.
“After meeting with my closest family members, friends and supporters, we have decided to suspend Jim Graves for Congress indefinitely,” Graves, a hotel magnate and businessman who lost to Bachmann by a mere point in 2012, said in a statement Friday. “This was never about Jim Graves; this was about challenging the ineffective leadership and extremist ideology of Michele Bachmann on behalf of those she represents.”
In a brief interview with ABC News, Aaron Wells, Graves’ campaign manager, echoed Graves’ statement. “He was so determined that this community was getting the worst representation in the House of Representatives, and he no longer feels with or without him that that will be the case in 2014,” Wells said.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also confirmed Graves’ decision to ABC News. The decision came as a surprise, seeing just how close Graves got, with little national support, last time around.
The suburban Minneapolis district is deeply Republican, but Wells said the campaign had a pathway to victory and Graves’ dropping out was nothing more than no longer feeling the need to spend the time and effort now that Bachmann was out.
“He would have won the primary … if he had chosen to stay in and finish the campaign through 2014, but he also believes there is a clear path to victory for another Democrat. It wasn’t a fear of losing in the slightest,” Wells said.
Of course, the National Republican Congressional Committee believes differently, and put out a statement touting the GOP’s chances in the district.
“As another one of the National Democrats’ top recruits drops out, Nancy Pelosi’s fantasy of Democrats reclaiming the House becomes further out of reach every day,” Alleigh Marré, NRCC spokeswoman said in a statement.
The MinnPost was the first to report the news, and in an interview with the paper Graves cited family and business as reasons to pull out now that Bachmann was not running.
“I’m not a politician; I’m a business guy,” Graves told the MinnPost when asked if he would consider running in the future. “Now there are zero things on my agenda that I feel a need to do in public life.”
“Basically, 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 said. “She wasn’t representing the people of the 6th District appropriately, and now she won’t be representing them. There’s no way anyone could run and win who would be worse than Michele Bachmann. So we accomplished that task.”
Bachmann’s decision — she announced it in a video early Wednesday morning — came as a surprise to all, as she was already running ads in the district.
Her 2012 presidential campaign is currently under investigation by the Federal Election Commission, the Office of Congressional Ethics and the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, stemming from allegations that her campaign concealed payments to an Iowa state senator who worked for the campaign.