By Corey Mitchell and Kevin Diaz
The civil lawsuit filed by a former Michele Bachmann presidential campaign staffer against the Minnesota Republican is headed to trial next year.
Barbara Heki alleges that senior member of the congresswoman's presidential campaign covered up the theft of a proprietary e-mail list of home-school families.
Scheduled for May 2014, the trial would not bring an end to the legal and ethical problems stemming from Bachmann's 2012 White House bid, which is under investigation by several federal agencies, including the FBI.
Heki, a campaign outreach director, also took her theft allegations to police in Urbandale, Iowa, where the matter remains under investigation.
Heki sought to settle her lawsuit for an undisclosed sum, prompting Bachmann to fly to Iowa this month to meet with Heki's lawyer, Jeff Wright. He declined comment when contacted by the Star Tribune on Wednesday.
As dawn broke on Wednesday, Minnesota Republicans began scrambling to answer: with U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's announcement that she would not seek a fifth term, who will vie to replace her?
The Republican-dominated sixth district, which slopes through the Twin Cities suburbs and exurbs and encompasses the city of St. Cloud, and the areas nearby include a raft of current, ex-lawmakers and other political activists who may look at running.
Tom Emmer: The former state lawmaker, who narrowly lost the 2010 gubernatorial election to DFL Gov. Mark Dayton, said on Wednesday that he would consider it but added, "it's way too early to say what I might do." Like many in the district, he said that he was "stunned" by Bachmann's announcement. By later afternoon, he sounded more sure:"I am strongly considering running for the open seat."
Phil Krinkie: The current president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota, former state Rep. Krinkie vied for the sixth congressional district Republican endorsement in 2006 and dropped out of the race when Bachmann nabbed the nod. He said he would give a run "serious consideration."
Amy Koch: The former Senate Majority Leader, Koch left senate leadership in 2011 and did not run for re-election last year after she had an affair with a staffer. On Wednesday, she said only, "I've been getting a lot of calls."
Tim Sanders: A three-term state representative from Blaine, Sanders said his phone has been ringing non-stop. “I’m interested...I think I’d be a fresh face and I think I represent the district well.”
Michelle Benson: First elected to the state Senate in 2010, Benson, from Ham Lake, said that she is "not a no, I am not a yes." She said that as a sitting lawmaker in a congressional district without an incumbent, she said she would have to talk the issue over with her family and give it "appropriate consideration."
Peggy Scott: The third term representative from Andover, said: "I’m considering it. My family and I mulling it over."She said she has not set a deadline for when she may make a decision.
Rhonda Sivarajah: The Anoka County commissioner, who was picked as Republican gubernatorial candidate Marty Seifert's running mate in 2010, is interested in potentially running. “It is something I am considering," she said. "But I need to give it a great deal of thought with my family.”
Other names being mentioned: state Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, of Big Lake, Pete Hegseth, who briefly ran for U.S. Senate last year, Rep. Matt Dean, who lives just outside of the district in Dellwood, Pat Shortridge, the former chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party and a longtime political operative.
Kurt Daudt: The Minnesota House Minority Leader said his Crown, Minnesota home is just outside of the Sixth District but he is not thinking about running for Congress or any other higher office. Instead, he said, he would concentrate on winning the Minnesota House for Republicans in 2014.
Michelle Fischbach: Just a bit of Fischbach's current state senate district is in the Sixth District but her Paynesville home is not. She said Wednesday she would not run.
Couldn't quite say no:
Mark Kennedy: Kennedy held the Sixth District seat until 2006, when he ran for the U.S. Senate, rather than re-election. When asked if he would consider re-upping, he said, that his prioritty was making sure the seat stays in Republican hands and advised "do not hold your breath" waiting for him to announce a run.
Staff writers Jennifer Brooks and Paul Levy contributed to this post.
With U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann's announcement that she will not seek a fifth term in the U.S. House, her one-time Democratic opponent said she "recognized that it would be an uphill battle for her going forward."
Bouyed by Bachmann's revelation, hotelier Jim Graves released a statement this morning, saying people in her district are "eager to be represented by a common-sense business person."
In their congressional race last year, Bachmann defeated Graves by little more than 1 percent, despite outspending Graves 10-to-1.
Graves announced this spring that he would again try to unseat Bachmann. Last week, his campaign released a poll that showed he and Bachmann were in a statistical tie, though Election Day is not until November 2014.
In a video released this morning, Bachmann assured her supporters that Graves' candidacy did not affect her decision, without mentioning him by name.
Bachmann's district is the state's most conservative. In November, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won 56.5 of the vote in the district.
"My decision was not in any way influenced by any concerns about my being re-elected to Congress," Bachmann said. "If I ran I would again defeat the individual who I defeated last year."
Here is Graves' statement:
"This serves to show that even Rep. Bachmann is hearing that Minnesota's 6th is ready for a new, business-oriented approach. As recent polling indicates, our message is resonating with the people of the 6th District and she recognized that. She must also have recognized that it would be an uphill battle for her going forward. People are eager to be represented by a common-sense business person who understands the economy from the inside out."
By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Corey Mitchell
With an early morning video message to supporters, embattled Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann announced she would not run for re-election next year.
"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 Wednesday morning video. "I've never considered holding public office to be an occupation."
The high-profile congresswoman had a narrow re-election last year and is under federal investigation for her 2012 presidential campaign. A recent poll found that a rematch with her 2012 Democratic challenger, Jim Graves, was a dead heat.
In a polished video message, which included her personal list of what she believes she accomplished during her eight years in Washington, she said supporters could "rest assured" that neither of those challenges influenced her decisions
Graves said that Bachmann's decision shows she "recognized that it would be an uphill battle for her going forward." People in the district, said the millionaire hotelier, are "eager to be represented by a common-sense business person."
Although Bachmann's district is the most Republican in the state, she only bested Graves by about 1 percentage point, or about 4,200 votes, in 2012. In November, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won 56.5 of the vote in the district.
"My decision was not in any way influenced by any concerns about my being re-elected to Congress," Bachmann said in her video message. "If I ran I would again defeat the individual who I defeated last year."
When she ran last year, she battled a perception that her 2012 presidential ran meant that she took her eyes off the needs of the district. In that race, she won the Ames Iowa straw poll in 2011, which felled Gov. Tim Pawlenty's candidacy, and then dropped out six months later when she came in a disappointing sixth place.
The campaign left with more than a $1 million in debt, much of which she has since repaid through the congressional campaign she restarted in February of last year. All told, she spent nearly $15 million on last year's 2012 congressional bid, making that race one of the most expensive in the country.
The presidential campaign also left Bachmann in the ongoing glare of Iowa and federal investigators and in the middle of a civil lawsuit.
The FBI has contacted two former staffers of her presidential campaign, adding to the swirl of federal and state investigations looking into alleged financial improprieties by top officials in the campaign. The Federal Election Commission and the Office of Congressional Ethics are also looking into her campaign's activities and the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee has investigated payments to her 2012 Iowa campaign chairman, state Sen. Kent Sorenson.
On Wednesday, Bachmann, who ran paid television ads two weeks ago, shocked the political world with her announcement. Even Republicans insiders in the district were surprised to wake up and find the news.
Bachmann herself was out of the country as the Sixth District absorbed her bombshell. She was on a congressional trip to Russia on Wednesday, leaving her eight-minute video statement to speak for her.
"Looking forward, after the completion of my term, my future is full, it is limitless and my passions for America will remain," Bachmann said. She said she would consider any future path, "if it can help save and protect our great nation for future generations."
Bachmann's announcement instantly set off a political scramble in the Republican-leaning Sixth Congressional District. Many Republican office-holders and former office-holders had interest in the suburban and rural district last year, after Bachmann's failed presidential campaign before she decided to run for re-election, and may look to run in 2014.