While Bachmanns district faces some significant restructuring that may make her re-election campaign more problematic, political observers and state Republican Party functionaries predict she will have little problem retaining her congressional seat. I don't really expect that she'll have any difficulty winning re-election, state GOP official Jim Knoblach told the St. Cloud Times newspaper.
Bachmann told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that she was "very thrilled to be in the position that I am today, and I am looking forward to continuing. Obviously we'll see what happens with these [redistricting] maps. But I do intend to run again."
The Star Tribune reported that Bachmann's announcement came "a day after a Public Policy Polling survey found that 57 percent of Minnesotans hold an unfavorable view of her, compared with 34 percent who view her favorably. The same poll found that 37 percent say she should run again, while 57 percent say she should not."
Minnesota's Democratic Farm Labor (DFL) party took advantage of that manufactured news, pointing out that during her failed presidential campaign Bachmann was a frequent now-show in Congress. "Michele Bachmann has done absolutely nothing for the people of Minnesota's 6th District in the last year," DFL chairman Ken Martin told the Star Tribune. "Since September 2011, she has missed over 90 percent of the votes in Congress. Instead, she was flying around the country and catering to her tea party friends as part of her failed bid for president."
But Bachmann pointed out that a state-wide popularity contest mean little since she is running in a district that has given her solid support over the past six years. "I'm running in the sixth congressional district," she said. "The people are very positive about the service that I've given them. I've gotten tremendous response from the people all across the sixth district."
She added that her constituents "appreciate how hard I have worked for them. That's why I'm confident. When I go back to Minnesota on a regular basis, people tell me how thrilled they are by the service I've been giving them."
Bachmann first took Minnesota by storm in 2001 when she ran a grass-roots campaign to win her seat in the state senate, upsetting 18-year GOP incumbent Gary Laidig in the primary, and going on to defeat both a DFL and independent candidate in the general election. Immediately popular with Minnesota's significant bloc of Christians and social conservatives, over the next five years Bachmann was a dependable pro-life legislator, as well as the undisputed leader of efforts to pass a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. After failing for several years, that amendment passed the Republican controlled state legislature last year and will be voted on by Minnesota's electorate next November.
While Bachmann has been less vocal concerning issues like same-sex marriage since being elected to the U.S. Congress in 2006, she is still considered one of the more reliably conservative members of the House on most domestic issues. According to The New American's Freedom Index, 87 percent of Bachmann's votes over the course of the 111th Congress (ending January 2011) were for less government and lower taxes. The notable negative exceptions were her votes to prolong U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, extend tax dollars to foreign countries, and give the federal government unprcedented powers of search and seaizure over American citizens (Patriot Act).
Over the past three years in Congress, Bachmann has been one of the most vocal GOP opponents of Obama in Congress, making her one of the favorites of the Tea Party movement. The unofficial announcement of her upcoming congressional race came on the heels of the Presidents January 24 State of the Union address, which Bachmann derided as fairly extreme and highly partisan, and which she noted included no defense of his controversial health plan or the massive financial bailouts he orchestrated.
As a matter of fact, she told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, you could say we saw a fan dance tonight that the President was giving, because he didnt want to talk about what people are upset about. Theyre upset about Obamacare and not being able to access credit under Dodd-Frank. They're upset about their houses remain underwater.
Kathryn Pearson, a political science professor at the University of Minnesota, noted that Bachmanns vocal opposition of Obamas liberal agenda is a hallmark that has made her a popular figure among conservative voters. She has been able to effectively use her position in Congress to gain national media attention for her criticism of the Obama administration and for her leadership of the Tea Party caucus, Pearson told the Associated Press. So it seems logical to me that she would want to return to Congress and do more of the same.
While Bachmanns presidential run certainly didnt improve her chances of securing a fourth term in Congress, high-ranking members Minnesotas Republican Party seemed to agree that she continues to be one of its bright stars in a traditionally liberal state political climate. In a statement that coincided with Bachmanns announcement, state GOP chairman Pat Shortridge offered a solid endorsement of the congresswoman, saying that she has worked extremely hard on behalf of Republican principles for the past three terms in Congress, continues to fight for limited, constitutional government, personal freedom, traditional values, and a strong and secure America. We are thankful to have her on our side.