Democrats in Washington are readying for a 2014 rematch between U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and DFL businessman Jim Graves, who came within a whisker of beating the Minnesota Republican last November.
And this time, they're willing to help.
“I dropped myself into that race,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chair Steve Israel said Wednesday. “I went into that district in the last couple of weeks and raised money for Jim.”
Graves lost to Bachmann by a surprisingly close 4,296 votes, or 1.2 percent. He has not said publicly if he will run at her again, though he hasn’t ruled it out.
“Jim came very, very close to winning and we are very upbeat about his prospects in 2014,” Israel said. Asked if he thinks Graves will run, Israel responded, “I think so.”
Israel’s remarks came in a press briefing telegraphing the DCCC’s strategy of winning back the House by branding Republicans as beholden to their most extremist Tea Party elements.
Bachmann was the founder of the House Tea Party Caucus. But despite her frequent contention that she is a top target of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, the DCCC ran no ads and spent no money to help Graves last year, choosing instead to put resources where Democrats thought they had a better chance of winning.
In retrospect, Israel sent his regrets about not foreseeing Bachmann’s vulnerability in the aftermath of her unsuccessful run for the presidency, in which she spent much of her time identifying with her Iowa roots.
“You are always going to have regrets,” he said. “Like any football coach, there are plays you look back on and say, ‘gee, maybe I should have run another play.’”
Israel suggested that the cold, hard data in 2012 did not support a big DCCC play against Bachmann. But apparently Graves changed that.
“We will make decisions in 2014 based on Jim Graves’ success in 2012,” Israel said. “He proved that he could come close, and so we do anticipate working very closely with him, should he announce.”
(Update: Graves' campaign manager and son, Adam Graves, said Wednesday that the elder Graves is "seriously considering" another run, and will make a final decision sometime in early April. Meanwhile, Republican National Congressional Committee (NRCC) spokeswoman Alleigh Marré released the following statement: “Jim Graves must have never heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Graves’ tax and spend liberal policies didn’t resonate with Minnesota families last election, and they still won’t come Election Day 2014.”)
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