Now that Michele Bachmann, Minnesota 6th district Congresswoman, has pulled her hat out of the presidential ring, the question remains: Will she run for re-election to her seat in Congress? The filing deadline is June 5th, so no matter what we may speculate and no matter what Michele or her operatives may indicate, we will not know for sure until June 6th.
I had been assuming that Bachmann would run for re-election, and the smart (but unhappy) money says she’d win if she did run in her current district. She actually does represent (as in mirror) the 6th district quite well, something I know from experience. (On the other hand, Erik Paulsen doesn’t represent his district … mine … very well, yet he managed to get elected then re-elected once so far.)
My assumption that Michele would run may have been wrong, however. There is an AP story going around that quotes Minnesota Republican operative Kent Kaiser saying “I don’t think she’ll run for re-election” and indicating that she may instead hit the speaking circuit, and essentially follow in the footsteps of Sarah Palin. Others have indicated something similar. Personally, I think this is misguided and possibly even unfair and biased thinking. There are two large-haired outspoken crazy-eyed females of seeming about the same political orientation on the scene, therefore they are clones and what works for one will work for another. But really, they are not clones. Sara Palin walked away from her political office because she got bored of it (or for some other reason perhaps); was a mayor and a governor, and does the whole “Alaska is free so we know freedom more than you do” thing. Bachmann, in her political life, has always been a lawmaker, not an executive, and has maintained the fundamentalist evangelical religious connections both directly and through her husband for years, even attending a religious school for her law degree. The list of things they’ve stood for, pushed, pushed against, and done in office don’t overlap much. Palin is linked to the religious right, but Bachmann is the religious right. They both scare the hell out of me but for overlapping but distinct (and numerous) reasons.
So, Bachmann might leave Congress, according to some guy who I’m not sure is even close to her campaign or to her, for reasons that I don’t think are very relevant. I’m not buying that. But there is another indication that her Congressional career is not certain: Redistricting. If she runs for re-election, it may not actually be for her current district, or at least, mostly not. We are currently redrawing the Congressional districts in Minnesota, and as I understand it, this will be done prior to the filing deadline, and this year’s Congressional elections will be for seats representing those new districts. More effort is going into drawing lines to affect the current Sixth district than any other district in the state. One could be cynical and assume that this is an effort by the Democratic Party to oust Michele Bachmann (and I’d be unhappy were that not at least partly true!) but the simple reality is that the 6th district, owing to factors of economic geography, has had the largest population change in recent years statewide, and is therefore one of the main reasons we are even looking at district boundaries.
There is a very good chance that redistricting is going to put Michele Bachmann up against a very popular and powerful Democrat, in a district where Michele would not have a great advantage. Betty McCollum has been in her district for six terms, is well liked, and well connected. An army of supporters and volunteers assembles as we speak ready to move, and I promise you that there will be ample funding for her campaign. Well, that’s a guess, not a promise, but it’s true. The Democrats, nation wide, will not miss an opportunity to knock Bachmann out of DC.
So the truth is, Michele Bachmann is facing two alternatives: Try to stay in Congress and likely lose an election, or leave Congress gracefully and be a “factor” in Republican and Tea Party politics over the short or medium term. If she chases the former, and does lose the election, she has a good chance of being contaminated with the label of double-loser. If, on the other hand, she goes against McCollum and wins, the Republicans will anoints her s a saint. That chances of that happening, of course, are slim.