In yet another surprising development in Minnesota's Sixth District U.S. House race, Democrat Jim Graves is dropping his campaign, MinnPost reports.
Graves' exit comes on the heels of Wednesday's announcement by Graves opponent Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., that she would not seek a fifth term.
Campaign manager Aaron Wells told The Associated Press that Graves will issue a statement later Friday explaining the decision.
But Graves spoke exclusively to MinnPost's Eric Black in an interview, Black reported. Graves told him, in part, “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.’ She wasn’t representing the people of the 6th District appropriately, and now she won’t be representing them."
Black reports that Graves does not plan to talk much more to the media about his decision.
Political observers said Graves faced a more difficult race with Bachmann out of it because she was a high-profile target for Democrats, and Democratic fundraisers.
Graves, 59, is a wealthy hotel owner who challenged Bachmann in 2012 and narrowly lost. He announced in April that he was running again, setting up a rematch. He said then he was running to bring “results-oriented leadership” to Congress. “These days Congress is all about ... scoring political points rather than actually solving problems and Minnesota’s 6th District — my home —is losing out because of that more than anywhere,” Graves had said. “I’m not interested in celebrity, only in solutions."
An early poll showed the rematch was a dead heat in the Republican-leaning district.
The Bachmann-Graves race was again expected to be one of the House's most closely watched. Bachmann had raised nearly $2 million, and Democrats planned to raise large amounts of campaign money in a high-profile effort to oust the conservative firebrand.
"It had all the trappings of an epic House race in the making," a Washington Post blog notes. "As it turns out, neither will be running."
MPR has a copy of a letter Graves sent to supporters, which he called one of the most difficult letters he has ever written. It says in part:
We set out to defeat Rep. Bachmann, and that has been accomplished. You should feel incredibly proud. After all, it was the grassroots movement you built that kept the pressure on and forced Rep. Bachmann from her seat in Congress.
I'll never be able to thank you enough for being part of this team. But after struggling with this decision - agonizing over it with my friends, supporters and family, I've decided to suspend my campaign indefinitely. As I said, I've never faced a more difficult decision. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your support and dedication.
Your friendship means the world to my family and me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.