The start of this year's 6th Congressional District Republican convention felt more like a well-known, oft-read book being closed rather than a fresh new one opened.
Friday night's convention kick-off at Monticello High School served as a tribute to Rep. Michele Bachmann, the four-term U.S. Representative who is well-loved by her conservative base – and often reviled by critics on the left. After winning her 2012 House race by a margin of about 1 percent, she announced she would not seek re-election.
"I'm not going away," Bachmann told the crowd Friday night, the St. Cloud Times reports. "I'm just going to a different perch."
The 58-year-old gave the night's keynote address, and before getting on stage said more public service could be in her future, the Pioneer Press reports.
"I'm not ruling it out, in any way," she told the paper. "It could happen. It's just that not this fall."
According to the paper, she also said she'll be active in the 2016 presidential race, but did not offer which candidate she will support.
Maybe the most surprising appearance came from a political colleague on the opposite side of the spectrum from Bachmann (although the two do seem to get along during hotdish competitions). Sen. Al Franken provided a personal video message – and with a figurative wink, he acknowledged all the things he and Bachmann agreed on.
Belden (who live-tweeted the event, all of it compiled here) noted former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and actor Jon Voight also provided video messages for the Bachmann. As did media pundits Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, the St. Cloud Times reports.
Republicans in the 6th Congressional District will make an endorsement Saturday – which it looks like Tom Emmer will get – marking a symbolic end to Bachmann's four-term reign.
"I served in politics as unto the Lord," Bachmann said Friday, according to the St. Cloud Times. "I made a decision that I was going to lay everything on the line."
She's held her position in Congress since 2007, when she took office as the first Republican woman to be elected to the U.S. House as a representative for Minnesota. Bachmann describes herself as a "Constitutional Conservative," and in 2010 established the Tea Party Caucus.
Bachmann was born in Waterloo, Iowa, but graduated from Anoka High School then Winona State University. She served in the state Senate from 2000-2006 before being elected to the U.S. House.