Controversial Minnesota congresswoman and Tea Party leader Michele Bachmann on Wednesday said she will not seek a fifth term next year.
In an early-morning video announcement (watch below), the outspoken Republican lawmaker said she plans to finish out her term, but will not seek re-election.
"My dear friends, after a great deal of thought and deliberation, I have decided next year that I will not seek a fifth congressional term to represent the wonderful people of the Sixth District of Minnesota," Bachmann said in the video. "I've never considered holding public office to be an occupation."
The high-profile congresswoman said her decision had nothing to do with recent inquiries into her 2012 presidential campaign, nor did it have anything to do with her chances of re-election next year.
Bachmann won re-election in 2012 by a slim margin, defeating Democrat Jim Graves. Graves last month announced he would challenge Bachmann again in 2014.
"I have every confidence that if I ran, I would again defeat the individual who I defeated last year," she said in the video.
Graves on Wednesday morning said he was surprised by the announcement, MPR reported. "But clearly, she got the same message that we're getting up when we're up in the district, is that that people are looking for change, and she didn't see a pathway to victory, apparently, and decided to step aside," Graves said, MPR reported.
In Bachmann's video, the conservative firebrand reveals she considered not running last election but felt there was little time for another Republican to mount an effective campaign.
Bachmann was among the very top fundraisers in the House. First-quarter reports filed in April showed Bachmann raised nearly $680,000, bringing her war chest for the 2014 campaign close to $1.9 million. USA Today reported only three members of the House – including the speaker and majority leader – raised more than Bachmann.
Bachmann had offered little evidence that she was considering quitting Congress, the Pioneer Press notes. Her fundraising operation was still seeking the small-dollar donations that had helped fuel Bachmann campaigns in the past, and she had an ad running on Twin Cities television that is critical of President Obama's health care law, the newspaper reports.
The Wednesday announcement will set off a political scramble in the conservative Sixth Congressional District, the Star Tribune notes.
Bachmann spends part of the nearly 9-minute video railing against the Obama administration, specifically Obamacare, the administration's handling of the attack on Benghazi, and economic policies that she says make her more concerned than she's ever been about the future of the country.
"Looking forward, after the completion of my term, my future is full, it is limitless, and my passions for America will remain," Bachmann said in the slickly produced video with inspirational background music.
A Bachmann spokesman said she would not do interviews Wednesday.
Here's her announcement: