The Big Story Blog

Voters assess Bachmann's future in 6th District

Posted at 4:00 AM on January 5, 2012 by Minnesota Public Radio
Filed under: Politics

By Conrad Wilson, Minnesota Public Radio News

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St. Cloud, Minn - U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's decision to drop out of the contest for Republican presidential nominee brought mixed reviews from her constituents in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, where voters are assessing her bid for the White House and weighing her future as their congresswoman.

Since announcing her candidacy in June, Bachmann has taken her message to national audiences on the road. But she's also managed to hold onto the support of some who put her into office.

Among them is Michelle Keller of Rice, Minn. who is sad that Bachmann is suspending her campaign.

"Michele Bachmann would have been a great president," Keller said. "She knows Minnesota. She knows the Midwest; of the United States. More than most of those politician's know. "

Keller said if Bachmann asked for her advice, she'd have an easy answer: "Try for vice president."

Bachmann can also count on Curt Brandon of Sartell, Minn. He said he's read Bachmann's book, "Core of Conviction: My Story," and supported her because she is a strong Christian.

"She tells the truth the way it is," Brandon said. "Sure she made some mistakes. She's not totally knowledgeable. Maybe she's not even qualified to be president, but she tried and she certainly has done a lot of good."

Others in her district are less supportive of Bachmann's president bid and even her future in politics.

Jim Meinz, who owns and manages real estate in St. Cloud, describes himself as politically independent and not a Bachmann supporter.

"You cringe when you hear some of the things that she says," Meinz said. "She doesn't make you proud."

Meinz said Bachmann might be better suited for a career outside of politics.

"I think that she's all over the board on the issues and I just think that there are better candidates out there," he said.

Bachmann declined to entertain questions Wednesday about what her immediate future holds.

She could run for re-election to Congress, decide to challenge Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, or use her exposure in the national spotlight to transition into a career outside of politics. There's also the chance that the eventual Republican presidential nominee might select her as a running mate.

Should Bachmann consider a run against Klobuchar, she'll have to consider polling data. One poll surveyed before Bachmann's presidential bid shows Klobuchar handily beating Bachmann in a statewide race.

If she decides to run for re-election in the 6th District, Bachmann will do so with new district boundaries that will most likely be assigned by a court. At this point, Bachmann also doesn't know who her Democratic challenger would be.

Stephen Frank, a political science professor at St. Cloud State University, said Bachmann, a prolific fundraiser, will also have to seek new political contributions.

"She had lots of money in her last election and she had millions that she left over," Frank said. "We think it was perfectly legal for her to use that money in her presidential campaign. But I'm thinking she's tapped out ... I'm not sure she has the money she had before."

By running for the presidency, Bachmann's elevated her profile and her views. That could help create more interest around her if she decided to run again for Congress, Frank said, but the opposite could also be true.

"About half of Americans can't name their own congressperson," he said. "A lot don't pay attention and now they've seen her in a national light ... And that may help or it could go against her."

GOP party leaders gave no indication what they want Bachmann to do next.

Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Pat Shortridge, who thanked Bachmann for running a strong campaign for the party's nomination, said she has some decisions to make.

"Bachmann's steps moving forward are up to her," Shortridge said in a statement released Wednesday. "She and her family will have to decide how she can best serve the things she's been fighting for."


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.