Two DFL businessmen look to join race to face Bachmann

Hotelier Jim Graves and tavern/marina owner Brian McGoldrick are political novices pursuing Sixth District bids.

A pair of DFLers tentatively entered the race against Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann on Thursday.

Jim Graves and Brian McGoldrick make for three DFLers taking steps to unseat Bachmann in the heavily Republican district.

In a statement announcing an exploratory committee, Graves, the CEO of Graves World Hospitality, said, "The people of the Sixth District can count on me to serve as a full-time congressman, focusing on creating jobs and rebuilding a sustainable middle class."

Graves also took a dig at Bachmann's reputation for pursuing star power: "Rather than seeking constant national limelight, I will focus my energy on issues that affect people's lives."

According to Graves' company biography, his holdings include a "portfolio of over 90 varied and successful hotel, resort and high-end housing projects."

Campaign spokesman Donald McFarland said Graves will use his personal resources in his race but will also seek donations.

Graves said he is in discussions with his family about whether he will run and will make a decision "shortly after Easter."

Graves, like Bachmann, does not currently live in the suburban and rural Sixth District. Redistricting placed Bachmann just outside of the district lines. Graves grew up in St. Cloud but lives in Minneapolis.

While Graves was testing the waters, another Sixth District businessman kicked off his campaign for the DFL nomination.

McGoldrick owns Admiral D's Waterfront Tavern and marina in White Bear Lake and has no political experience. But unlike Graves and Bachmann, he said, at least "I actually live in the Sixth District" -- the new district line falls a mile from his house.

"I'm a hard worker. If you've been in small business, that's all you know how to do, is to work really hard for people," said McGoldrick, who told reporters that despite his relative lack of experience, he's not worried about being able to raise enough money to challenge a congressional incumbent.

Despite the conservative makeup of the district, McGoldrick describes himself as pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. During a news conference at the Capitol on Thursday morning, he said he would drop out if he doesn't win endorsement at the DFL convention.

A third potential DFL candidate, Anne Nolan, has made the same pledge.

"Up until now, I haven't had the desire" to run for public office, McGoldrick said on Thursday. Now, he said, his two children are grown and out of the house and he's willing to "work really hard and prevail."

"Small businesses, they're the backbone of this country and I don't think small business has the representation that they need in Washington," McGoldrick said. "They provide the bulk of the jobs, and they provide the bulk of the taxes. I think we've got way too many attorneys in Washington, D.C."

rachel.stassen-berger@startribune.com • 651-925-5046 jennifer.brooks@startribune.com • 651-925-5049

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