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Sixth District DFL candidate Maureen Reed announced Sunday evening that she is dropping out of the race to unseat Rep. Michele Bachmann, leaving just one DFLer to take on the Stillwater Republican this fall.
Reed said her primary battle with state Sen. Tarryl Clark would only have benefited Bachmann, a champion of the Tea Party who has raised millions of dollars from across the country for her reelection bid.
"The other DFL challenger, Tarryl Clark, has amassed more resources, and I feel that it is time for the DFL to unify behind one candidate in this race," Reed said.
Reed asked her supporters to back Clark and her "campaign to bring sensible leadership to the district."
The period to withdraw from the primary ballot passed on June 3. "Maureen Reed will still appear on the primary ballot because the withdrawal period is over," said John Aiken, spokesman for the secretary of state's office.
The surprise announcement changes the dynamic of the Sixth District race, which was already shaping up to be one of the most heated in the state. Though Bachmann represents a solidly conservative area, national eyes and wallets are keenly focused on the race because of the lawmaker's controversial style of politics.
Responding to the news, Clark called Reed a "spirited competitor" and said a unified DFL team has a better chance to defeat Bachmann. "I am honored by and thankful for Maureen Reed's endorsement," she said.
The GOP wasted no time playing up Clark's record in the Legislature, particularly her recent deciding vote on a tax increase.
"Unfortunately for Clark, her campaign of higher taxes and big government will go over like a lead balloon in the Sixth Congressional District," said Minnesota GOP Chairman Tony Sutton, whose party has taken to calling Clark "Taxin' Tarryl."
Bachmann indicated last month that Clark was the main challenger on her radar. In a rare nod to an opponent this early in the race, the Bachmann camp cut a radio ad targeting Clark's tax vote.
The others left in the race are Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson and independent Aubrey Immelman. Neither has raised substantial funds.
Rachel Stassen-Berger contributed to this report. Eric Roper • 202-408-2723