If you can't attack tea party giant Michele Bachmann, there's really not too much left in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District for you if you are a Democrat.
At least that is what outgoing Democratic candidate Jim Graves decided Friday.
In a brief interview with the MinnPost, Graves announced he was dropping out of the race he had planned to use as a chance to call out Bachmann's tea party credentials.
But now that his main objective – making sure Bachmann didn't win a fifth congressional term – was met without an election, Graves says the allure is really gone and he would like to spend more time building his hotel business.
"With Michele Bachmann now stepping down, I've been talking to my friends and family and frankly, the feeling is, 'Mission Accomplished,'" Graves told the MinnPost. "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."
While Graves lost by just more than 1 percent in his matchup against Bachmann in November, the district leans strongly Republican. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won the district by 15 points in November and McCain won the district by 8 points in 2008, leaving plenty of room for a more moderate GOP candidate to scoop up a wide margin of the Republican electorate.
Republican strategist Brian McClung, who worked for former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, says that with Bachmann out, the race only became a tougher climb for Graves.
"It is a strong Republican district and a lot of the Republican legislators think this is a once-in-a-20-year opportunity to run for an open seat," McClung says, predicting that the bench of qualified GOP contenders would be deep.
McClung also said that without a presidential candidate to mobilize voters in the district, many may stay home, giving GOP voters the advantage.
Graves says he will not be taking interviews in the next month as he allows emerging Democratic candidates to build momentum for their own campaigns. But in an interview with U.S. News Wednesday, Graves said he was caught off guard by Bachmann's announcement.
"I was surprised at the timing," Graves said. "She was doing more in the district than I had ever seen since she has been in Congress."
The National Republican Congressional Committee wasted no time touting the collapsed campaign as a major victory for them.
"National Democrats are having a tough go at recruiting this cycle," NRCC Spokesman Alleigh Marre said in a statement. "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."